Opuntia pinkavae

Opuntia pinkavae
Opuntia pinkavae

Parfitt, Rhodora 99(899): 223, 1997

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia pinkavae?

Opuntia pinkavae is a small prickly pear cactus. Long before publication of the name, pinkavae, this Opuntia was distributed under the name O. kaibabensis. However, that name was never officially published. It is a member of the dry-fruited O. polyacantha group.

Details

This prickly pear cactus has ascending to prostrate branches to 10-25 cm tall. Pads of this Opuntia are not fragile and are green, flattened, and narrowly to broadly obovate. Pads are 6-15 cm long and 3-10 cm wide (larger than O debreczyi). There are (0)1-3(4) spines in the distal 25% to 50% areoles, but up to 75% of areoles may have spines. Some plants may have essentially no spines. Spines are porrect to reflexed, whitish at maturity but may have brown bases. Spines of this prickly pear cactus may be up to 50-70 mm long.

Flowers of O. pinkavae are generally purple or magenta and 25-35 mm long. Filaments are yellow to red-orange to magenta; anthers are yellow, and the white style is topped by a green stigma. The fruits are dry at maturity, 20-30 mm long and about 20 mm wide. Seeds are tan, oval to subcircular, and warped with a protruding girdle.

O. pinkavae is octoploid.

Other Notes

This Opuntia is a small prickly pear cactus with compact clumps of pads 8 to 15(20) cm tall, normally growing from a central root system dominated by thickened taproot. The pads are bluish-green and generally tuberculate with small areoles set relatively far apart and bearing 0 to 2(4) slender spines. The flowers are pink with green stigmas. Sometimes flowers are magenta or nearly white, but apparently never orange or yellow. The fruits are dry, and the seeds relatively large and irregular in outline.

This Opuntia is found in the Arizona Strip of northwestern Arizona and southwestern Utah; it is also found north up some of the valleys of southwest Utah, perhaps 50 or more miles. It might occur in adjacent Nevada too but isn’t documented from there yet. It is a grassland and high desert prickly pear cactus. 

O. pinkavae is cold-hardy and tolerant of many garden conditions. Because is small and compact and has bright flowers, it is an excellent addition to gardens. 


 

Opuntia sp nova aff macrocentra

Opuntia sp nova aff macrocentra
Opuntia sp nova aff macrocentra

Introduction

This unidentified Opuntia was observed growing in southern New Mexico near Las Cruces, near El Paso, Texas, and in adjacent Mexico. This cactus may  grow alongside O. macrocentra and is similar to O. macrocentra. But, this unidentified taxon is more upright, has a different bloom period, and is a taller prickly pear. These opuntias are gray-blue or gray-green, and the spines are decidedly pale at their tips.

Opuntia sp nova aff engelmannii

Opuntia sp nova aff engelmannii
Opuntia sp nova aff engelmannii

Introduction

This undescribed Opuntia has been observed growing in very rocky situations in central and north-central New Mexico. This prickly pear cactus resembles O. engelmannii but is a spinier and smaller cactus. Even gracile forms or shade-grown plants have a spinier appearance than  O. engelmannii. Prickly pear cacti from different locations are depicted on this page; we consider that they represent a single taxon. These plants are similar to O. arizonica and may be the same taxon.

Opuntia nicholii

Opuntia nicholii
Opuntia nicholii

L.D. Benson, The Cacti of Arizona edition 2, 48, 1950

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

Original Description

What is Opuntia nicholii?

Opuntia nicholii is an uncommonly encountered prickly pear cactus occurring in isolated locations in far-north, central Arizona and adjacent southern Utah.

Details

O. nicholii can be large and sprawling, stretching up to 2 m or more across but less than 30 cm high. Cladodes are obovate to narrowly obovate and 10-20 cm long. Major spines are 4-12 cm long and stout and generally occur in every areole. Spines (1-5 per areole) are down curved, ascending, and pink-gray or the lower portion gray to black. 

Flowers are typically pink or magenta, 5-8 cm across, and showy. Fruits are 2-5 cm long, spiny, and dry at maturity. Like O. polyacantha, the fruits of O. nicholii are dry at maturity and the seeds are large. 

O. nicholii is hexaploid. 

Other Notes

The Flora of North America reports that O. nicholii grows in “barren areas with saltbush and ephedra, limestone or red, sandy soils,” around 4000 ft. Some plants of O. nicholii vary from typical spination, perhaps through introgression with other species.

Even though the plants are large, it was once proposed that O. nicholii  was a variety of the smaller O. polyacantha rather than a distinct species. However, unlike the hexaploid O. nicholii, O. polyacantha is tetraploid. 

Due to is spiny nature, magenta flowers, and large sprawling branches, this O. nicholii makes a great plant for large gardens.  

Opuntia martiniana

Opuntia martiniana
Opuntia martiniana

(L.D. Benson) B.D. Parfitt, Systematic Botany 5(4): 416, 1980 [1981]

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

It is proposed that O. martiniana is related to O. chlorotica chlorotica

O. curvospina is a related species

Original Description

What is Opuntia martiniana?

Opuntia martiniana is a prickly pear cactus found sporadically at the north end of the Hualapai Mountains near Kingman, Arizona. 

Details

O. martiniana cladodes are often circular or subcircular with long spines arising from the areoles. Cladodes are 9-16 cm across. The spines are pale yellow at the tips, changing to yellow and yellow-brown, and sometimes finally brown at the base. Overall the spines may appear golden or yellowish-brown. Most areoles have spines; typically there are 1-2 strong ones that are semi-vertical to the pad surface. Two or three lesser spines may be present but without such vertical presence.

Flowers are yellow and may have a style swollen at the midpoint. The pericarp is more slender than in O. curvospina, a similar plant. Areoles are few on the fruit. The ovary apex at anthesis is about 1.5 cm across. 

O. martiniana is tetraploid.

Other Notes

Parfitt (1980) reported that O. martiniana is superficially similar to O. curvospina but is distinguished by its style shape and other characters. For instance, O. martiniana is a shorter plant at about 60-90 cm. 

We have not examined the type specimen for this species, but Benson seems to have used the name for different plants. The proper use of the name hinges on what the type specimen really is. Benson seems to have been redescribing Opuntia gilvescens, and most of his published photos are of that species (some of the color photos are of other species, likely all O. phaeacantha). None of Benson’s photos are of the plant that Pinkava and Parfitt called Opuntia martiniana. It seems odd that Benson would misinterpret his own species, but it’s possible. It seems that the type specimen should match his photos and should be O. gilvescens.

Pinkava and Parfitt considered the type specimen to be the same as yellow-spined, semi-erect plants that are most like O. azurea or O. macrocentra. It is also similar to O. chisosensis. The yellow-spined plant is found in the mountains of the Kingman area in Arizona and is very distinctive. Earle may have called the plant O. superbospina, but that name doesn’t fit either, for that plant is purported to be low-growing with very long spines. 

Read more below thumbnails.


Dave Ferguson writes:

 

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Opuntia macrorhiza

Opuntia macrorhiza
Opuntia macrorhiza

Engelmann, Boston Journal of Natural History 6: 206, 1850

Holotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium (O. macrorhiza-like); Herbarium; Herbarium HerbariumHerbariumPrint (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXVIII); Print (Addisonia, 1916, plate 19); Print

See O. cespitosa, a similar eastern plant

O. pottsii can be mistaken for O. macrorhiza.

Original Description

What is Opuntia macrorhiza?

Opuntia macrorhiza is a small, prostrate prickly pear cactus, seldom reaching 40 cm in height though it may sprawl 1 m across. O. macrorhiza has a large geographic range, being found from New Mexico and Utah into Texas and north to Colorado as well as the the Plains States and the Midwest. O. macrorhiza does not occur in Arizona but has been reported for that state. Apparently reports of O. macrorhiza in Arizona are due to O. pottsii, a species that can be mistaken for O. macrorhiza.  

Details

From Powell and Weedin

O. macrorhiza is a low, sprawling plant less than 30-40 cm high. Plants often have tuber-like swollen roots to 2.5 cm thick. Cladodes are wrinkled after the first winter, 7.5-13 cm long and 8-12 cm wide, oval, ellipsoid, or obovate. Often there are 1-3 main spines from areoles in the upper portions of pads. The lowest spine may be deflexed, whereas the other two project outward or upward. Spines are pale, often tan-white. Glochids are usually obvious and may be profuse. 

Flowers are yellow with sharply defined orange or red centers. Stigmas are cream-colored or pale green as is the style. Flowers vary in size but may be 6 cm long and 5-8 cm in diameter. Filaments are cream-colored distally and greenish basally. Anthers are yellow. The pericarpel is slender and about 3 cm long. Fruits are variable throughout its large range and may be greenish, orange, or red with a sour taste. Some fruits are obovoid and 2-3 cm long and 1.5-2 cm in diameter with few and small areoles. Other fruits are clavate. Spines are rare on fruits. Seeds are irregularly shaped, 3-3.5 mm in diameter, 1.5-2 mm thick, notched at the hilum, and with a narrow margin to 0.5 mm. 

O. macrorhiza is tetraploid. 

Other Notes

O. macrorhiza is a variable and widespread cactus. In fact, several forms have been named including: O. greenei, O. stenochila, O. macroflora, and perhaps more. All of these possible variants are included in our concept of O. macrorhiza here. They may actually represent discrete taxa or only minor variations. More study is needed. O. macrorhiza has always stirred controversy about its correct identification. New information suggests that the the broad concept of  O. macrorhiza presented here could be reconsidered.

Reports of O. macrorhiza in the Midwest and East may be due to O. cespitosa, a similar-appearing taxon. 

Opuntia macrorhiza is a superb garden plant because it is tough, cold hardy, easy to grow, and not too large. The yellow flowers can be striking with their red centers. Additionally, many garden forms exist with pinkish and reddish flowers. 

Opuntia macrocentra

Opuntia macrocentra
Opuntia macrocentra

Engelmann, Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 3: 292, 1856 [1857]

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium (as O. violaceae macrocentra); Herbarium (as O. violaceae macrocentra); Herbarium (O. macrocentra minor); Herbarium (O. macrocentra minor); Herbarium (O. macrocentra minor)

Original Description

What is Opuntia macrocentra?

Opuntia macrocentra is a much-grown and much-enjoyed prickly pear cactus found in western gardens. It is related to O. azurea. The flowers are attractive and the pads are often bluish or purplish. 

Details

From Powell and Weedin:

O. macrocentra plants are spreading to upright plants, 30-60 cm tall or taller. Cladodes are obovate to orbicular, 10-20 × 10-20 cm, or the pads are slightly wider than long. Spines may be produced on the upper one-fourth of the pad or only in the areoles of the upper edge. Occasionally, plants may be essentially spineless. The largest spines are often directed upwards. Spines are black to reddish-brown and 5-10 cm long. 

Flowers have sharply defined, bright red centers that may be star-shaped. They are 6-8 cm long and 5.5-8 cm wide. The filaments are about 1.5 cm, pale green proximally and cream-colored distally. Anthers are yellow. The style is cream-colored and 1.7-2 cm long. The stigma lobes are cream-colored or pale green. The reddish fruit is oboviod, ovoid, or ellipsoid, 3-4.3 cm long, 1.5-3 cm in diameter, and deeply concave. The rind is purple and the juice and pulp are pale-purple to clear. Seeds are flattened, tan, 3.4-4.5 mm in diameter, 1.5-1.9 mm thick with a broad notch on one side and prominent raphae. 

O. macrocentra is tetraploid

O. macrocentra minor has been described by Powell and Weedin, and it is diploid. 

Other Notes

O. macrocentra has been confused with O. chlorotica santa-rita and O. azurea, but the three cacti are distinct. It is unfortunate that O. macrocentra was sometimes mislabeled as a prickly pear variety of O. violaceae because O. violaceae is a nonexistent species.

Britton and Rose reported that specimens with bluish pads can be especially showy.

O. macrocentra is an excellent garden plant in many climates. Its striking color and beautiful flowers are impressive. It is easy to grow in USDA climate zone 7 and warmer if the climate is not to wet. Plants can become large in gardens and without drought stress may not reach their best stress-caused color. 

Opuntia gilvescens

Opuntia gilvescens
Opuntia gilvescens

Griffiths, Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden 20: 87, 1909

Holotype (as O. gilvescens); Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbariumHerbariumHerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium. Except where indicated, all specimens  were originally interpreted as O. phaeacantha

O. gilvescens is related to O. camanchica

O. gilvescens is related to O. phaeacantha

Original Description

What is Opuntia gilvescens?

Opuntia gilvescens is a widespread, medium-sized cactus. It occurs from Oklahoma all the way to and southern Nevada and desert California. It is a common plant in Arizona. It is often confused with O. phaeacantha, in part because there is no slot for it in most guidebooks. 

Details

O. gilvescens has nearly round or obovate cladodes that are generally dull. Main branches rest upon the ground and other branches rise to 30-80 cm. O. gilvescens is sometimes a symmetrical plant. Mature plants may be 1 m across. Cladodes may be 20 × 25 cm, but they are often smaller. Spines are not numerous, and there may only be 2 major spines, but there may be 1-4 on first-year growth. The tips of spines are translucent. 

Many O. gilvescens flowers have a blush of red at the bases of the interior tepals, but some individuals may have rust-colored veining that can darken or spread as the flower ages. Cacti with all-yellow flowers may be found. Also, some cacti have pink flowers as in parts of southern Utah. Stigmas are green, pale green, or yellow-green. Anthers are yellow or cream-colored. Filaments are yellow but can darken towards the base. Fruit is round-bottomed or barrel shaped, but may occasionally have a narrow base, ripening to pink, reddish, or even greenish-pink. Flesh is greenish or pink-green, sometimes dark. Seeds are about 0.75 cm across with a 1 mm rim.

O. gilvescens is hexaploid.

Other Notes

The authors have found this prickly pear in Oklahoma (Arbuckle Mountains and west), in western and central Texas, in many parts of New Mexico as well as in Arizona, southern portions of  Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, and in the mountains of the eastern California Mojave Desert. Similar-appearing prickly pears have been found in the mountains east of Palm Springs, California. Additionally, the plant occurs in the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. 

Plants from southwest New Mexico and adjacent Arizona are often pale; sometimes they have rhombic or more elongate joints and pale spines. Plants from the Mojave Desert area often have round pads with fewer than average areoles and a few pale spines. Plants from the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico and into central Texas are often dark in appearance; they may become strongly red-purple in winter and the spines can be black.

In central New Mexico, O. gilvescens fits the type description well. Some southern populations, such as populations on the east side of the Sandia Mountains and down into Socorro County, and again in the Alamogordo area, often have wide, curved pads creating an interesting potato chip look.

Opuntia fragilis

Opuntia fragilis
Opuntia fragilis

(Nutt.) Haworth, Synopsis plantarum succulentarum 82, 1819

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Painting

Original Citation

What is Opuntia fragilis?

Opuntia fragilis is one of the smallest opuntias and one of the most cold hardy. It is found throughout parts of the West and the northern Midwest. Frequently O. debreczyi is frequently misinterpreted as O. fragilis or a hybrid of O. fragilis in the Mountain West and the Great Basin. 

Details

Dr. Eric Ribbens writes:

Opuntia fragilis (Nutt.) Haw. is a small, cold-hardy prickly pear. It has pads 1 to 3 cm long and longer than wide, and spines can be longer than the pad, or short.

This Opuntia forms a sprawling prostrate mat up to 30 cm in diameter; rarely are there erect chains of more than 2 or 3 pads. The cladodes of this Opuntia are remarkable because they are ‘fragile’. They separate easily–sometimes with just a touch.

Flowers are large and yellow, with creamy greenish to reddish centers. Older plants often develop a thick rootstock at the base of the plant. Large plants can be comprised of hundreds of pads on numerous flat chains. The pads are often rather rounded instead of flat, and that it does not ever set fruit in the Midwest.”

O. fragilis is hexaploid. 

Other Notes

Britton and Rose reported that O. fragilis is seldom in flower and even less often in fruit.

O. debreczyi is a western opuntia that is about twice the size of O. fragilis. It is frequently misinterpreted as O. fragilis and thus distorts knowledge of the actual distribution of the species. The two species are known to occur together. 

Many garden hybrids are known. They are excellent garden or pot plants because of their small size and ability to withstand many conditions. Some are brightly colored and all are cold-hardy. 

For more information about the taxonomy, appearance, geographic distribution, and ecology of O. fragilis see the following publications by Dr. Eric Ribbens.

Permission to reproduce some materials for this page through the courtesy of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America and Dr. Ribbens. The journal articles are copyrighted and may not be reproduced elsewhere.

Opuntia flavispina (O. engelmannii var flavispina)

Opuntia flavispina
Opuntia flavispina

(L Benson) BD Parfitt & Pinkava, Madrono 35(4): 348, 1988 [1989]

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

Read the Original Citation of O. engelmannii flavispina

What is Opuntia flavispina?

Opuntia flavispina is an attractive prickly pear that has long yellow spines sweeping down from the areoles. It is medium-sized, not as tall as O. engelmannii but taller than O. phaeacantha

Details

Plants may be approximately 1 m across and 0.5-1 m tall. The branches are ascending or prostrate with some upright branches. The obovate or oval cladodes may be 15-22 cm long and 10-20 cm wide. Primary spines are up to 7.5 cm long but are often 3 to 4 cm long. O. flavispina is characterized by a single, deflexed, long, yellow spine at many areoles. This major spine often has a burgundy base that darkens as the pads age. A much shorter secondary spine may be present. The second spine often deflexes downward more strongly than the first spine. Overall, because of the copious yellow spines, the plant often has a greenish-yellow look. 

Flowers are yellow with green stigmas. Deep red fruit is roundish or barrel-shaped with a distinctly depressed umbilicus. Sometimes fruit may be longish, almost clavate. Over time the fruit becomes dull purple. 

O. flavispina is hexaploid.

Other Notes

O. flavispina was published as a variety of O. engelmannii. Prior to that, it was described as a variety of O. phaeacantha. Nonetheless, we accept it as an undescribed, stand-alone species.

O. flavispina occurs sporadically in southern Arizona and adjacent Mexico.