Opuntia chisosensis

Opuntia chisosensis
Opuntia chisosensis

(Anthony) Ferguson, Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 58(3): 124, 1986

Holotype; Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

Original Description

What is Opuntia chisosensis?

Opuntia chisosensis is a prickly pear cactus that grows in the Big Bend region of Texas and adjacent Mexico where it occurs at higher elevations in wooded areas. At one time it was considered to be a variety of O. lindheimeri


From Powell and Weedin: 

O. chisosensis is a medium-sized (to 1 m tall) prickly pear cactus. Ascending branches extend from a thick base. Cladodes are bluish-gray to green and circular to broadly obovate. There are 1-5 spines per areole in this Opuntia, spreading or deflexed, yellow to orange, tipped yellow (upper portion of plant), darkening with age, or dark red-brown (lower portion of plant). The spines are more or less acicular,  2 to 6 cm, terete or flattened near the base, and often curved. Spines generally occur in the upper portions of the cladodes. Glochids may partly encircle the areoles and are also in a poorly formed apical tuft.

Flowers on this Opuntia are 5-7 cm wide and yellowish or yellow-buff. The stigma is green or yellow-green above a yellow style; filaments are pale green. Pericarpel areoles are small and distant. Fruits are conspicuously small, especially when compared to other species in the Chisos Mountains.  Fruits are reddish-purple, ellipsoid to spherical, barrel-shaped, approximately 40 × 45 mm, juicy,  with little tapering at the base (or not at all). Fruit areoles are spineless and clustered near the apex. Seeds are yellow to tan and approximately 4 × 3.5 mm. The protruding girdle is about 1 mm. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

This medium-sized prickly pear has attractive yellow spines. However, older spines may be brownish red. Overall, due to its stature and coloration, it is an attractive garden plant. Moreover, it is cold-hardy due to its mountain origins. 

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