Opuntia flavispina (O. engelmannii var flavispina)

Opuntia flavispina
Opuntia flavispina

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

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What is Opuntia flavispina?

Opuntia flavispina is an attractive prickly pear that has long yellow spines sweeping down from the areoles.

It was published as a variety of O. engelmannii. Nonetheless, we accept it as an undescribed, full species.


Plants may be approximately 1 m across and 0.5 m tall. The branches are ascending or prostrate with 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.

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 changes color to a dull purple. 

O. flavispina is restricted to southern Arizona and adjacent Mexico.  Read about the name combination, O. engelmannii flavispina. O. flavispina is hexaploid.

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