Opuntia pyrocarpa

Opuntia pyrocarpa
Opuntia pyrocarpa

Griffiths, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 43(2): 90, 1916

Isotype; Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (O. griffithsiana); Herbarium (O. griffithsiana); Herbarium (O. reflexa); Herbarium (O. convexa); Painting; Painting (O. convexa)

Original Description

What is Opuntia pyrocarpa?

Opuntia pyrocarpa is a commonly encountered prickly pear cactus in south-central to north-central Texas where it often grows in deep, limestone-derived soils. It is found in Mexico and perhaps Oklahoma, and it may be in other parts of Texas. 

Details

O. pyrocarpa is an ascending spreading plant to 1 m tall. Often the main branches of this prickly pear cactus are prostrate but ascend at the ends. The cladodes are large, approximately 25(30) × 15(20) cm, or they may be smaller in some plants. The cladodes may be constricted at the base to form a short neck, or this feature may be lacking. The spines are porrect in new cladodes, but often slope down with age. Spines are present on the upper 50% to 60% of the areoles and are yellow darkening to a brown base. Spines are 2 to 3 cm long.

The flowers are yellow with light-red centers or pure yellow. This Opuntia has a white style tipped with a light-green stigma. The petals are irregularly cleft or even nearly bifurcated. The fruit is long, pyriform, and various shades of carmine, often with a purplish tinge outside and inside.

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

O. pyrocarpa may form large plants that create piles of cladodes spread over 6-8 feet, making up for lack of height by achieving breadth. Or prostrate ascending branches by reach upwards to 100 cm. Several large plants growing together can create a formidable thicket. The species occurs with others found in Texas such as O. lindheimeri, O. macrorhiza, and O. orbiculata, etc. The type location is Marble Falls, Texas. 

Opuntia mackensenii

Opuntia mackensenii
Opuntia mackensenii

Rose, Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 13: 310, 1911

Holotype; Isotype; Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (as O. roseana); Herbarium (as O. roseana); Painting; Photograph; Photograph

Original Citation

What is Opuntia mackensenii?

Opuntia mackensenii is a prickly pear cactus found in northern Texas and adjacent areas. Many specimens have tuberous roots. It can be mistaken as a form of O. macrorhiza or even O. phaeacantha

Details

O. mackensenii is clearly described by Powell and Weedin. O. mackensenii is a prostrate plant to 1 m across. It may have ascending branches. Plants are up to 30 cm tall if branches ascend. Cladodes are subcircular or obovate, 8-16(20) cm in diameter. One to four spines are present in upper areoles. Plants may have pale spines but commonly have spines grading to black at the base. Sometimes spines are distinctly black and white. 

Flowers are medium-sized and yellow. Fruit is spineless and oval or sometimes narrower with/without a contracted base, 4-5(6) cm long, truncate at apex, with nearly colorless and pleasant-tasting pulp. The seeds are orbicular or suborbicular, 5-6 mm in diameter, nearly white, and with acute margins. 

O. mackensenii is tetraploid.

Other Notes

Powell and Weedin also describe O. mackensenii var. minor

O. mackensenii is similar to O. phaeacantha, but the latter taxon is hexaploid. Pads are greener and softer looking than those of O. phaeacantha, and the fruit is richer in color (most often redder). It is commonly found over the northern half of Texas and reaches into Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. It is often confused with O. macrorhiza especially because field guides do not have a slot for it.

O. mackensenii was renamed O. edwardsii at one point. However, the type specimen was incorrect, and the name fell by the wayside.

Opuntia lindheimeri subarmata

Opuntia lindheimeri subarmata
Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata

(Griffiths) Elizondo & Wehbe, Cactaceas y Suculentas Mexicanas 32: 17, 1987

Holotype; Isotype; Isotype; HerbariumHerbarium; Painting; Painting

See the entry for O. lindheimeri.

Original Citation (Spanish)

What is Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata?

Opuntia lindheimeri subaramata is a prickly pear cactus that was described as a stand-alone taxon (O. subaramata) by Griffiths.  It is the same cactus as O. engelmannii subaramata described by Weinger (Cacti of Texas, 1988). We accept it as a variety of O. lindheimeri as was described by Elizondo & Wehbe in 1987. 

Details

The cladodes are fleshier, thicker, “heavier seeming” and “denser appearing” than the cladodes of typical O. lindheimeri. This Opuntia makes thicker, more dense shrubs than the parent taxon. The plants may be shorter than the parent variety, but they can get large. The few spines are yellow and may be flat. They may grade to true dark brown without red (even nearly black) at the base, a characteristic that is unusual for O. lindheimeri. O. lindheimeri subaramata areoles may have few glochids or may have many glochids. 

The flowers are essentially like those of O. lindheimeri, as are the fruit and seeds as described by Powell and Weedin:

Flowers are brilliant yellow, but they turn orange or reddish over time. The flowers are 5-8 cm long and 5-7.5(10) cm across. Filaments (1.5 cm long) and anthers are cream-colored. The style is greenish-yellow to white or cream, 1.7 to 2 cm long with a bulbous base. The stigma is typically dark green. The pericarpel is 4-6 cm long and 2-2.5 cm wide. Fruits are purple to reddish-purple, often pyriform, 3-7 cm long, 2.5-3(4) cm in diameter, spineless, and with a shallow umbilicus. The fruit pulp and juice are beet-red and very juicy. The fruit is reported to be sweet, but not always so in our experience. Seeds are tan, irregularly discoid and small, 3-4 mm in diameter by 1 mm thick, with a narrow aril. 

O. lindheimeri subaramata may be hexaploid like the parent taxon, but at least one report suggests that it is tetraploid. 

Other Notes

O. lindheimeri subaramata intergrades with regular O. lindheimeri, but it is a distinct prickly pear that occurs mostly at the western limits of the O. lindheimeri range. The authors have observed this Opuntia near Amistad National Recreation Area near Eagle Pass, TX; near Del Rio, TX; in the McKittrick hills west of Carlsbad, NM; and on the Edwards Plateau of Texas. It may occur north to the Lubbock, TX area. 

Opuntia leptocarpa

Opuntia leptocarpa
Opuntia leptocarpa

Mackensen, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 38: 141, 1911

Holotype; IsotypeIsotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; HerbariumPainting (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXVIII, No. 1 and 2, left); Photograph

Original Description

What is Opuntia leptocarpa?

Opuntia leptocarpa is a prickly pear cactus that grows in east-central and central TX, and areas extending from there. It grows with O. macrorhiza and O. lindheimeri. Plants are not numerous in most locations.

Details

Stems are ascending, typically less than 30(50) cm. Pads are thin and oval, obovate, or elliptic, 10 to 20(25) cm long. Spines may be tan (or cream-yellow) darkening to brown or red-brown at the base, 20-30 mm long. Older cladodes may lack spines altogether.

Flower buds are thin and have rust-colored glochids. Anthers are yellow and filaments are yellow-white or white. The stigmas are pale white, yellow, or green. Tepals are gold-yellow or canary yellow. Inner tepals typically have at least a small amount of reddish pigment at their bases. As the name implies, the pericarp and the fruit may be long and slender. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

Some botanists suggest this taxon is the same as O. pyrocarpa, but we have observed it forms smaller plants with more slender flower buds. Britton and Rose described O. leptocarpa as a possible hybrid of O. macrorhiza and O. lindheimeri, which seems unlikely. 


Opuntia ficus-indica

Opuntia ficus-indica fruit
Opuntia ficus-indica fruit

(L.) Miller, The Gardeners Dictionary: eighth edition Opuntia n. 2, 1768

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumPainting; Painting; Painting; Painting

Original Citation

What is Opuntia ficus-indica?

Opuntia ficus-indica is a prickly pear species derived from several wild ancestors. It is generally a spineless prickly pear, but some cultivars have spines. 

Details

O. ficus-indica is a large plant (tall and woody). It is actually a collection of Opuntia cultivars rather than a discrete species. The various cultivars probably have differing admixtures of genes from O. streptacantha, O. tomentosa, O. hypiacantha, O. megacantha, and O. leucotricha.  

It is not native to the United States but is included here because it has naturalized in essentially frost-free regions of the country. It was developed in Mexico where the young cladodes (nopales) are consumed as a vegetable and the sweet fruits (tunas) are enjoyed. This Opuntia may have been used as human food for up to 9,000 years. Spineless opuntias were chosen over the millennia while the crop was developed.

Many forms are octoploid, but multiple ploides have been reported which likely refer to its complicated heritage. 

Other Notes

O. ficus-indica is one of the most widespread opuntias in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. It has become naturalized in many warms areas. O. ficus-indica grows well in mesic soils but tolerates some drought. It withstands high humidity and rain. It reproduces easily by clonal means and this facilitates its spread to the point where it is a serious weed in some areas, disrupting pastures and croplands. Britton and Rose described the plant as having a woody trunk and growing up to 3 m tall. 

Some clones of O. ficus-indica can hybridize with other Opuntia species in controlled settings, including O. lindheimeri, though it is not clear if the progeny of wide crosses are fertile or if such hybridization is frequent in Nature. 

One special use of O. ficus-indica is as a host for the cochineal insect (Dactylopius spp.). These scale insects grow on the surface of the plants. The female insects produce a red exudate (carminic acid) that may be a defensive chemical. The exudate is collected and used to make a red dye which is used in the production of cloth, cosmetics, and food coloring, etc. 

This Opuntia was popularized as a source of animal or human food in the United States around the beginning of the 20th Century. But, its successful adoption was not achieved over a wide area in part because it is cold sensitive. It is still employed as animal food in some situations. 

Article: The Origins of an Important Cactus Crop

Opuntia cacanapa (incl O. ellisiana)

Opuntia cacanapa
Opuntia cacanapa

Griffiths & Hare, New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin (New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts) 60: 47, 1906

IsotypeNeotypeHolotype (O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’); Isotype (O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’); Herbarium (O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’)

O. alta is another tree-type Opuntia

Original Description

What is Opuntia cacanapa?

Opuntia cacanapa is a large prickly pear cactus that occurs in Brewster County, TX and southeast to the Gulf Coast as well as in adjacent Mexico. It also occurs inland on the South Texas Plains where it is sympatric with other Opuntia species.

Details

O. cacanapa can reach 2-2.5 m tall. The largest branches/trunk may be 16 cm in diameter. O. cacanapa forms a large, open, branching prickly pear with blue-green and glaucous cladodes; it may grow into a tree shape or form a large shrub. The cladodes are up to 20 cm in longest diameter and are suborbicular, oval, or obovate. The 3-5 cm long spines of this Opuntia are yellow and sometimes brown or reddish-brown at the base. Spines may curve out from the areoles. Some plants may lack spines in most areoles. Leaves are strongly recurved. 

The stigma of the yellow flowers is pale, yellowish-green, or pale green.

O. cacanapa is diploid.

Other Notes

Lack of spines is a feature of some Opuntia species and is not unknown. However, lack of glochids is a very unusual condition in any prickly pear.

O. alta, another arborescent Texas prickly pear, has recurved leaves, but they don’t curl back as strongly. 

O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’ is a garden variant of O. cacanapa that has no spines at all and essentially no glochids. O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’ may seem different from the parent Opuntia. However, O. cacanapa and O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’ share key features that demonstrate their relatedness: 1) strongly recurved leaves on cladodes and flowers, 2) pale stigmas with white styles, 3) white filaments with yellow anthers, 4) general shape and size of the fruits, 5) obovate or subcircular cladodes, 6) identical bloom periods, and 7) arborescent growth or formation of large shrubs. 

O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’ is hardy in USDA climate zone 8 and perhaps parts of zone 7. Without spines or glochids, it is a wonderful garden plant. It is not fast-growing and can be kept small by pruning. However, it needs some size to bloom. 

Opuntia lindheimeri (incl ‘linguiformis’)

Opuntia lindheimeri
Opuntia lindheimeri

Engelmann, Boston Journal of Natural History 6: 207, 1850

Holotype (as O. lehmannii); Holotype (as O. lehmannii); Neotype; Isotype (as O. texana); Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (seeds); Herbarium (as O. texana); Herbarium (as O. texana); Herbarium (as O. subaramata); Herbarium (‘linguiformis’); Herbarium (‘linguiformis’); Painting (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXXI); Painting (Britton and Rose, v 1 1919, plate XXX, linguiformis); Herbarium (as O. ferruginispina); Painting (O. ferruginispina); Painting; Painting; Painting; Painting; Painting (‘linguiformis’); Painting

See checklist of differences between O. lindheimeri and O. engelmannii.

Also see O. lindheimeri subaramata.

Original Description

What is Opuntia lindheimeri?

Opuntia lindheimeri is a large, widespread prickly pear cactus extending from eastern Texas (possibly Louisiana) to the Pecos River in West Texas. In the south, it is found all the way to the Rio Grand River and into Mexico. In the north, it extends briefly into Oklahoma. 

Details

From Powell and Weedin: 

This prickly pear forms large sprawling shrubs 0.5-1.2(3) m tall, with obovate or orbiculate cladodes 15-27(30) cm × 12-22(30) cm wide and 1.5-2 cm thick. There are (0)1-5(8) clear yellow spines per areole with reddish brown bases. Largest spines are (3)4-6(7.5) cm long. Typically the spines are not arranged in a bird’s foot pattern as in O. engelmannii, and there are often one or more spines that are porrect or deflexed (see checklist of differences between O. lindheimeri and O. engelmannii). Seedlings are hairy. 

Flowers are brilliant yellow, but they turn orange or reddish over time. However, in South Texas flowers may have shades of orange. The flowers are 5-8 cm long and 5-7.5(10) cm across. Filaments (1.5 cm long) and anthers are cream-colored. The style is greenish-yellow to white or cream, 1.7 to 2 cm long with a bulbous base. The stigma is typically dark green. The pericarpel is 4-6 cm long and 2-2.5 cm wide. Fruits are purple to reddish-purple, often pyriform, 3-7 cm long, 2.5-3(4) cm in diameter, spineless, and with a shallow umbilicus. The fruit pulp and juice are beet-red and very juicy. The fruit is reported to be sweet, but not always so in our experience. Seeds are tan, irregularly discoid and small, 3-4 mm in diameter by 1 mm thick, with a narrow aril. 

O. lindheimeri is hexaploid

Other Notes

Britton and Rose considered that O. lindheimeri is a stand-alone species. The point is not settled, and other botanists accept O. lindheimeri as a variety of O. engelmannii. Both are large and have yellow flowers with green stigmas. Whatever their taxonomic relationship, the plants are easily distinguished when grown side-by-side and do not generally overlap in their natural ranges. O. lindheimeri is a plant of deeper soils and more mesic conditions (central and eastern TX), whereas O. engelmannii is a true desert plant of rocky or shallow soils (western TX and the western deserts). O. lindheimeri occurs a bit west of the Pecos River, but it is uncommon and is associated with mesic areas such as canyons. We accept O. lindheimeri linguiformis (Cow’s Tongue cactus) as a garden form of O. lindheimeri and not a variety. Powell and Weedin also described Cow’s Tongue cactus as a cultivar (‘linguiformis’), but placed it in O. engelmannii

The relatedness O. lindheimeri with O. engelmannii is clear. Powell and Weedin report an assemblage of names that were applied to O. lindheimeri at one time or another. Almost any large Opuntia in Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona has probably been misidentified or misunderstood over the years, and O. lindheimeri is no exception.

Opuntia bentonii

Opuntia bentonii
Opuntia bentonii

Griffiths, Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden 22: 25, 1911

Holotype; Isotype; Isotype; Isotype; Isotype; Isotype; HerbariumDrawing (seed)

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

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

Original Citation

What is Opuntia bentonii?

Opuntia bentonii is a beach prickly pear cactus that resembles small O. lindheimeri plants at first glance, but there are sustained differences between the two opuntias.

Details

O. bentonii is an open, erect prickly pear. The plants are generally under 50 cm tall. Mature O. bentonii cladodes are about 16 cm wide by 27 cm long and obovate (sometimes oval). There may be 1-3(5) spines in upper areoles, yellow and translucent. Spines may be erect or recurved and up to 2.5 cm long but are often shorter. Veins are visible between areoles and the areoles are raised. The recurved leaves are about 5 mm long.

Flowers are large, up to 9-10 cm in diameter. The style is greenish-white and the stigma is yellowish-green or yellow (not green). Fruit is obovate-pyriform and the umbilicus is flattish–slightly raised or slightly depressed. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

O. bentonii prickly pears are distinct from O. lindheimeri in several ways. Whereas the former Opuntia is typically 50 cm tall or less and remains so in cultivation, O. lindheimeri can become a large plant (1-1.5 m tall and broad). The stigmas of O. bentonii are yellow or yellow-green in contrast to the decidedly green stigmas of O. lindheimeri. The seeds of O. bentonii are larger than those of O. lindheimeri (about 40% larger in diameter).

O. bentonii often grows with O. anahuacensis, but the two plants, while both low and with yellow spines, are quite different. O. anahuacensis has fewer spines and tends to grow semi-horizontally. O. anahuacensis is an Opuntia that can form large and tangled thickets, whereas O. bentonii prickly pear plants stand upright (not horizontal ascending) even though there may be multiple plants growing together. O. bentonii has obovate or elliptical cladodes, whereas the oval or obovate pads of O. anahuacensis may have a short neck. The areoles of O. bentonii are often raised, giving pads a dimpled look. 

We have observed O. bentonii on Galveston Island, Bolivar Peninsula, and Sea Rim State Park near Port Arthur, Texas. This Opuntia is also reported from southwest Louisiana. Perhaps this prickly pear grows on the Gulf Coast in the many secluded areas of southeast Texas. We have not found this prickly pear away from the immediate coast.  

O. bentonii has bright yellow flowers and does not get excessively tall. It is a good garden plant in USDA climate zone 9 but its ultimate cold tolerance is unknown. O. bentonii has some features in common with O. tunoidea of the South Carolina coast. If the two taxa are the same, the name with precedence is O. tunoidea. More study is needed.

Opuntia azurea

Opuntia azurea
Opuntia azurea

Rose, Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 12(7): 291, 1909

HolotypeIsotype; Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium (O. azurea diplopurpurea); Holotype; (O. azurea diplopurpurea); Holotype (O. azurea discolor); Herbarium (O. azurea discolor); Herbarium (O. azurea parva); Herbarium (O. azurea parva); Herbarium (O. azurea parva); Herbarium (O. azurea parva); Painting (possible O. azurea)

See O. chisosensis

See O. macrocentra

What is Opuntia azurea?

Opuntia azurea is an attractive prickly pear cactus from the Big Bend Region of Texas that is related to O. macrocentra

Details

A full technical description of this Opuntia and its proposed varieties begins on page 130 of The Cacti of the Trans-Pecos and Adjacent Areas (Powell and Weedin, 2004). 

Powell and Weedin described five varieties of O. azurea.

  • aureispina
  • azurea
  • discolor
  • diplopurpurea
  • parva

We include a sixth possible variety of this prickly pear that is undescribed. We provisionally refer to it as O. azurea casteretti. Perhaps O. azurea casteretii it is only a white-spined version of O. azurea diplopurpurea. Powell and Weedin considered these white-spined plants to be variants of O. macrocentra and nothing more.

O. azurea is tetraploid or hexaploid depending upon the report. Perhaps polidy varies with variety, but there is no evidence to support this idea. 

Other Notes

This Opuntia is a wide-ranging (into Mexico) and variable species. Depending upon the variety, the plant may be purple at the cladode base or may turn entirely purple in winter. Spines may be slender or robust. Also, varieties are differentiated by height with some 1 m or taller and others less than 1 m. Additionally, cladode size may differentiate varieties. 

The Flora of North America does not recognize this taxon. 

O. azurea is cold-hardy and attractive in any collection. 

 

 

Opuntia atrispina

Opuntia atrispina
Opuntia atrispina

Griffiths, Annual Report Missouri Botanical Garden 21: 172, 1910

Holotype, Isotype, Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Drawing (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXV, top right)

Original Citation

What is Opuntia atrispina?

Opuntia atrispina is an early flowering, attractive prickly pear cactus from Texas and adjacent Mexico.

Details

Plants may be up to 90 cm tall, but more normally they are 50 cm or less. They may spread to 1 m. Cladodes on this cactus are green and 10-15 cm wide by 10-20 cm long and egg-shaped, obovate, or circular. The plants are densely branched. The round spines of this Opuntia are unique because they are a distinctive rich dark red-brown, dark brown, or even jet black at their bases and light tan or yellow on their distal portions. The transition is abrupt and this two-tone coloring provides a and attractive and distinctive look.

Fully opened flowers are 4-5 cm across. Filaments are yellowish distally and greenish proximally. The style is white. Stigmas are yellow, greenish-yellow, or even cream-colored. The flowers are also distinctive because they open cream-colored or white-yellow and change to salmon, pink, red, or even tan-pink.  Moreover, newly opened flowers can have a hint of green in the center. 

O. atrispina is diploid. 

Other Notes

The distribution of this prickly pear is limited in the United States, extending from the Uvalde, Texas area to near Del Rio and Langtry, TX. It has a larger distribution in Mexico. Briton and Rose reported that this Opuntia can be over up to 1 m tall and up to 1.3 m wide. But, these large plants are seldom seen today. 

Single plants may wear flowers of three or more cheerful colors as the flowers age making this Opuntia a good garden plant. Ultimate hardiness is unknown, but perhaps it is hardy to zero F.