Opuntia atrispina

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

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


Opuntia atrispina is an early-flowering species of Texas and Mexico. Cladodes are green and 3- to 4-inches wide by 6(7)-inches long and egg shaped, obovate, or circular, and the plants are densely branched. The round spines are unique because they are a distinctive rich dark red-brown, dark-brown, or black at their bases and light tan or yellow on the upper halves. This two-tone coloring provides a and attractive and distinctive look. The flowers are also distinctive because they open cream-colored or white-yellow and change to salmon, pink, red, or even tan-pink. Thus, single plants wear flowers of three or more cheerful colors. Moreover, newly opened flowers can have a hint of green in the center. Stigmas are yellow, greenish-yellow, or even cream colored. The distribution of the species is limited in the United States, extending from the Uvalde, TX-area to near Del Rio and Langtry, TX. Briton and Rose reported that the plants can be over 2- to 3-ft tall and up to 4-ft wide. See the original citation. O. atrispina is diploid. 

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