Opuntia cyclodes

Opuntia cyclodes
Opuntia cyclodes

Engelmann, Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 13(9): 309, 1911

Lectotype (deposited as O. engelmannii var cyclodes); Drawing (Bigelow, J.M., The Botany of the Expedition, 1856, plate VIII No. 1 [identified as O. engelmannii cyclodes])

What is Opuntia cyclodes?

Opuntia cyclodes is a little-studied, attractive prickly pear cactus from New Mexico. It has been called O. lindheimeri cyclodes and O. engelmannii cyclodes. But, it is a stand-alone species. 


Cladodes are typically circular, 15-20 cm across in this Opuntia. Plants are 50-120 cm tall and sprawling. More than half or almost all areoles have spines. Often there is a single long spine sweeping down from the areole that may be accompanied by 1 or 2 much smaller spines. Some pads of this Opuntia have multiple spines in areoles. The current year’s spines are essentially always yellow or straw colored, but they may darken towards the base.

Flowers are yellow. The fruit is 2.5-3 cm in diameter. 

O. cyclodes was originally described as a variety of O. engelmannii. However, the two opuntias are visually distinct and intermediates are not found. O. cyclodes is found irregularly over much of eastern NM, and in the El Paso, TX area as well. Original reports placed it as far west as Stein’s Pass (Steins) in southwest NM. The authors have observed this Opuntia in rocky, mountainous locations (eg, Villanueva State Park, NM) and in flat, sandy areas (eg, Conchas Lake State Park, NM). The type locality is “the upper Pecos” of New Mexico. 

See the original citation. Ploidy is unknown. 


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