Opuntia ochrocentra

Kunkel ex Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae; descriptions and illustrations of plants of the cactus family 4: 262–263. 1923

Lectotype; Herbarium; Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia ochrocentra?

Opuntia ochrocentra is a small- to medium-sized prickly pear cactus from the Florida Keys. (All pictures provided by Danny Green.)

Details

The pads of O. ochrocentra are elliptic to oval or even obovate, 10-30 cm long. There are 5-6 yellow spines in many of the prominent areoles. Spines are reflexed. 

Flowers are yellow with few petals, and the obovoid fruit is red, about 2 cm long. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

The type specimen was collected on the southeastern end of Big Pine, Key, Florida. The original description indicates that the taxon is related to O. dillenii but that it differs in the shape of the joints and in the possession of strongly reflexed, scarcely flattened spines. 

Opuntia eburnispina

Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae vol IV, 260. 1923

Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia eburnispina?

Opuntia eburnispina is a rarely found prickly pear cactus from Cape Romano, Florida. It may be related to O. humifusa or O. austrina, and some botanists consider that O. eburnispina is synonymous with O. austrina

Details

O. burnispina is prostrate, prickly pear, widely branched and forming mats on dune sands. It has tuberous roots. The pads are oval or suborbicular, varying to broadest above middle, thickish, 6 to 13 cm. long, pale green, somewhat shining, especially when young. The leaves ovoid-subulate, 4-5 mm long, pale green, recurved spreading. The spines relatively stout, 2-4 at an areole or sometimes solitary, 1-2 cm. long, ivory white with yellowish tips when young, becoming dark gray, not spirally twisted, greenish when wet.

Flowers are few; the ovary is obconic; the sepals are triangular, green, 5 to 7 mm. long. The flower is clear yellow, 4 to 5 cm wide. The petals are few, narrowly cuneate, often minutely pointed, and the berries obovoid about 2 cm. long or less. The seeds, at (ca. 3 mm), are smaller than those of O. austrina (ca. 5 mm). 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Opuntia abjecta

Opuntia abjecta
Opuntia abjecta

Small ex Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae, Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family 4: 257, 1923

Herbarium; Herbarium 

Original Citation

What is Opuntia abjecta?

Opuntia abjecta is a prickly pear cactus that occurs in the lower Florida Keys where it grows on bare limestone or where a bit of sand or humus has accumulated.

Details

This Opuntia grows up to 15 cm tall and forms multi-branched mats. The cladodes are 2-8 cm long and thickish. While not fragile, the cladodes are also not firmly attached to each other. The longest spines on this prickly pear may be 4-5 cm. Like O. zebrina and unlike O. pusilla, this cactus has teardrop-shaped leaves. The seeds of O. abjecta are about 4 mm in diameter.

There is typically one yellow flower per cladode. The fruit is gently tuberculate, urn shaped,  and rounded at the base. 

Both diploid and tetraploid forms of O. abjecta have been reported. 

Other Notes

Some botanists have accepted this name as a synonym of O. triacantha. We accept O. abjecta as a taxon independent from O. triacantha (see Majure et al). The type locality is Big Pine Key, FL.

 

 

Opuntia atrocapensis

Opuntia sp.
Opuntia sp.

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 905, 1933

Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia atrocapensis?

Opuntia atrocapensis is a prickly pear cactus known from the sand dunes of Monroe County, FL. It resembles O. ammophila

Details

O. atrocapensis forms prostrate, much-branched plants, sometimes resurgent a the tips. Cladodes are obovate, elliptical, or broadly elliptical, 5-10 cm long. Usually there is one spine per  areole. The longest spines are 2-3 cm. The fruit is narrowly obovoid to 3.5 cm long and reddish purple. There are many seeds that are 3-3.5 mm across. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

Some botanists consider that O. atrocapensis is synonymous with O. ammophila

Opuntia keyensis

Opuntia keyensis
Opuntia keyensis

Britton & Small, Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 20: 31, 1919

Herbarium; Herbarium; Black and White Photograph

Original Description

What is Opuntia keyensis?

Opuntia keyensis is native Florida prickly pear cactus found in the Keys and Cape Sable. 

Details

O. keyensis is a large, erect, multi-branched cactus that forms a shrub or small tree growing to 3 m tall, but shorter individuals are common. The bright-green cladodes are oval, obovate, or even spatulate–thick and 10-30 cm long. The spines are short and hidden within the 1 cm long glochids, but this prickly pear definitely has spines. The spines are stout, pink when new and salmon-colored at maturity. There are 4-13 spines per areole.

The flowers are solitary or several per cladode and pale pink or salmon-colored. The buds are short-pointed. The corolla is cup-like or short-campanulate, 3-3.5 cm wide, with relatively few tepals. The fruit is obovoid and 4-6 cm long, with a strong narrowing at the base. Seeds are numerous. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

O. keyensis is found on hammocks in the Florida Keys and in the Cape Sable region. It is found only near the ocean. It is a suitable garden plant for large gardens in frost-free areas. 

Opuntia polycarpa

Opuntia polycarpa
Opuntia polycarpa

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 906, 1933

Isotype; HerbariumHerbarium

See O. ammophila

See O. austrina

Original Description

What is Opuntia polycarpa?

Opuntia polycarpa is a prickly pear cactus that grew in large colonies in the early 20th Century, but the species is much less common now. 

Details

Opuntia polycarpa is a smallish but upright prickly pear cactus to 1 m that forms multiple branches (bush like). The pads are generally elliptic or rhomboid-eliptic and may be twisted. They are 10 to 40 cm long and bright green. The areoles may be strongly bristly and carry 1(3) spines. Spines in this prickly pear cactus are slender, pale-yellow, and dark-yellow or salmon at the base. When mature, spines may be brown and 2 to 3 cm long.

Flowers are bright-yellow and 6 to 7 cm wide. Anthers are 2.5 to 3 cm long. The bright-red or purplish fruit is ellipsoid-obovoid and 4 to 5 cm long. The umbilicus of this Opuntia is flattish but may have a slight dimple at the center. Seeds are numerous and about 6 mm in diameter with a wide margin.

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

This prickly pear cactus typically grows in sandy or deep soils. 

Overall, this Florida taxon is similar to O. austrina and O. ammophila, and the three have been proposed to be a single taxon.

Opuntia zebrina

Opuntia zebrina
Opuntia zebrina

Small, Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 20: 35, 1919

Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia zebrina?

Opuntia zebrina is a medium-sized prickly pear cactus of the Florida Keys. It is named “zebrina” because it has spines that are banded yellow (tan) and dark brown.

Details

O. zebrina grows to 1 m tall or less. Cladodes are oval or obovate and 10 to 20 cm long. Lower areoles have no spines and upper areoles are irregularly spined. 

Flowers are few and yellow, solitary. The fruit is obovoid and may or may not be constricted at the base. Fruit is about 4 cm long. Seeds are 6-7 cm in diameter. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

O. zebrina has some similarities with O. dillenii, but the plants are smaller and more cold sensitive. Also, the banded spines are unique to O. zebrina, whereas O.  dillenii spines are generally solid yellow. Additionally, O. zebrina often has fewer spines than O. dillenii, sometimes having only 1 at  surface areoles and 2-3 on edges (see herbarium sample above). Perhaps O. zebrina is merely a variant of O. dillenii.

Like many plants of the Florida Keys, O. zebrina is threatened by loss of habitat. 

Opuntia stricta

Opuntia stricta
Opuntia stricta

(Haworth) Haworth, Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum 191, 1812

Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

O. stricta has similarities with O. dillenii, another beach prickly pear

O. stricta is different from O. anahuacensis, but they are both beach prickly pears.

Original Citation

What is Opuntia stricta?

Opuntia stricta is a coastal prickly pear cactus that occurs on the shores of Florida and other southeastern states. The cactus may also occur naturally in the Caribbean, the Gulf coast of Mexico, the eastern shores of Mesoamerica, and on the northern shores of South America.

Details

The Flora of North America online reports: 

O. stricta is a sprawling or erect shrub up to 2 m across and 1 to 1.5 tall. Cladodes are green, flattened, narrowly elliptic or obovate and  10-25(-40) cm long by 7.5-15(-25) cm wide. The edges are generally not strongly scalloped, but may have shallow scallops. Spines are yellow, sometimes aging to brownish yellow. 

Flowers are light yellow and 25 to 30 mm long. Filaments are yellow as are the anthers. The style is yellowish as well. Fruits are purplish inside and out, stipitate, ellipsoid or barrel-shaped, 40-60 by 24-30 mm, juicy, and spineless. Sees are tan, and 4 by 4.5 mm with a 1 mm girdle. 

O. stricta is considered hexaploid, but tetraploid individuals have been reported. Perhaps the differences reflect the existence of two different taxa. 

Other Notes

Britton and Rose reported that this Opuntia is found along the Texas coast, and Weniger (1988) reported that the prickly pear may be found in Galveston Bay. The reports of the plants in Texas may have referred to O. anahuacensis because the authors have not observed O. stricta in Texas. It does occur along the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia and is often confused with O. dillenii. However, the two taxa are distinct and different.

Danny Green reports:

The cladodes on the O. stricta are generally oval or spatulate, whereas those of O. dillenii are obovate and/or rhomboid.

The areoles on O. stricta tend to be flush with the surface of the cladode, whereas the areoles on Opuntia dillenii are elevated above the surface of the cladode. For this reason, the margins of the cladodes on Opuntia dillenii are scalloped or wavy unlike the to be smooth or straight margin of O. stricta.

The leaves of O. stricta are shorter, thicker, and pointed upward (more parallel to surface of the cladode). In contrast, the leaves of the other Opuntia tend to be longer (though not all the time), slimmer, and pointed outwards (more perpendicular to the surface of the cladode).

The spines on O. stricta tend to be straight and perpendicular to the surface of the cladode, and it is common for them to be mottled with brown and yellow. In contrast, the spines on O. dillenii tend to be slightly curved (sometimes very noticeably curved) and usually yellow without mottling. Populations of O. dillenii in the Florida Keys may have mottled spines. John Kunkel Small thought that these Keys prickly pears were a separate and distinct species and referred to it as O. zebrina.

O. stricta tends to be more shrubby in habit or even prostrate-ascending, usually between 2- to 5-ft tall. Exceptional specimens of O. dillenii may be 10-ft tall and have a very discernible trunk. However, it is more common to see shorter O. dillenii plants that are 3- to 6-ft tall. Irrespective of height, O.  dillenii is seldom prostrate-ascending.

Finally, cotyledon morphology separates the two Opuntia species. The cotyledons on O. stricta are heart shaped, half as long as those of O. dillenii, and pointed outward, whereas the cotyledons of O. dillenii are oval,  elongate, and pointed upwards.

Although it is an easy plant to grow where temperatures do not drop below 20F, O. stricta is a sprawling plant and may give a garden an untidy look. It is a cheerful bloomer. 

Opuntia nitens

Opuntia nitens
Opuntia nitens

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 906, 1933

Herbarium; Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia nitens

Opuntia nitens is a small (1 m tall but often shorter), erect prickly pear cactus that grows in Florida that is related to O. austrina

Details

Cladodes are  6-15 cm long and dull-green or yellow-green. Spines on this cactus are often single but there may be up to 4 per areole, and they may be 2-4 cm long. Spines are brown with a light tip when new and gray or dark-gray when aged. They can point straight out from the areoles in an attractive manner.

Flowers are light yellow and about 6 cm wide. Anthers are about 2.5 mm long. The fruit is often reddish or red-purple. Overall, the fruit is egg-shaped and about 4 cm long but can narrow at the base to form a neck. The umbilicus is concave. Seeds are numerous and about 4 mm in diameter.

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes 

O. nitens is not rare in Florida, but it is not commonly found, being displaced by development and agriculture. It was described from specimens found on hammocks and shell mounds on the western side of the Halifax River in Florida. Overall, this taxon is similar to O. austrina, and perhaps they are variants of a single species. 

Opuntia turbinata

Opuntia turbinata
Opuntia turbinata

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 1933, 910

Original Description

What is Opuntia turbinata?

Opuntia turbinata is a prickly pear cactus that occurs in colonies along the coasts of Georgia and Florida where it  grows in sand dunes.

Details

O. turbinata is an erect, much-branched plant that is less than than 1 m tall. The cladodes are obovate, oval, or nearly circular, 10-15 cm long, and thick. There are 1-5 pale- to bright-yellow spines at many areoles. Spines may be up to 2-3 cm long. See below: two types of growth. 

The hypanthium of the flower is turbinate and the fruit is globose-turbinate. Flowers of this Opuntia are 4.5 to 5.5 cm wide.

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Details

This cactus has been found in northeastern Nassau County, FL; Duval County, FL; and in coastal southeastern GA. Because this prickly pear is confined to a small geographical area, it is a candidate for consideration as a protected Opuntia species. Some botanists consider O. turbinata to be a morphotype of O. stricta, but we accept it as a distinct species herein. 

Opuntia turbinata produces two types of growth: 1) horizontal-growing and soil-hugging cladodes that create a diffuse pattern, and 2) erect stems that arise from the horizontal stems. Over time the cladodes of the horizontal stems thicken and lignify extensively and may even become deeply buried in beach sand. The erect stems are composed of smaller cladodes and seldom reach a meter in height–often being 60 cm tall or less. Essentially all of the flowering occurs on the erect stems.

O. ammophila, which has been conflated with O. turbinata, commonly has a discernible central trunk and does not grow along the ground.