Opuntia gomei

Opuntia gomei
Opuntia gomei

Griffiths, Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden 21: 167, 1910

Holotype; Holotype (O. laxiflora); IsotypeIsotype (O. laxiflora); Herbarium (submitted as O. lindheimeri); Herbarium (O. cyanella); Herbarium (O. gilvoalba); Photograph (O. gilvoalba); Herbarium; O. gomei (painting); O. gomei (painting, O. laxiflora)

What is Opuntia gomei?

Opuntia gomei is a common prickly pear near the Rio Grande River delta, but it may occur inland somewhat on the South Texas Plains.


O. gomei may form large shrubs 1 m tall and up to 3 m across. Major branches of this opuntia often rest upon the ground and other branches arise from them. Old, large cacti often contain dead material in the centers. Large cladodes may by 40 to 60 cm (or more) in diameter. The cactus spines are erect and divergent. The largish pads are often scalloped. The yellow spines are 2-4(5) cm long and there are often 2-4(5) spines per areole, which are stout, straight, and not curved. Glochids are abundant and prominent in this opuntia, up to 1 cm. The glochids may fill the entire areole as is the case with O. lindheimeri.  

The flowers are yellow, but red flowers have been reported. The stigma is large and bright deep-green. The fruits are reddish purple. 

A spineless variety called ‘Old Mexico’ is known in the nursery trade; it forms large shrubs and, like the species, has large cladodes. O. gomei is synonymous with O. laxiflora. 

See the original description.

‘Old Mexico’ is a good garden plant in large gardens. It is tolerant of many conditions. The large pads create an architectural effect. Perhaps it is hardy to USDA climate zone 8a/7b. 

2 thoughts on “Opuntia gomei”

  1. Opuntia undulata is a tropical plant and is unlikely to grow north of south Texas or southern California. O. gomei is more cold tolerant. Also, O. gomei has lots of spines, whereas O. undulata has not spines.

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