(Weber) Ferguson, Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 60: 159, 1988
What is Opuntia chlorotica gosseliniana?
O. chlorotica gosseliniana is one of three varieties along with vars chlorotica and santa-rita within the O. chlorotica complex as described by Ferguson (1988). The three types blend into each other over their range where they overlap.
These prickly pear cacti may reach 1 m tall (usually shorter), and are almost always tinted with pink or purple or bluish purple. Like O. chlorotica chlorotica, O. chlorotica gosseliniana has needle-like spines on older trunks and branches. Unlike O. chlorotica chlorotica, O. chlorotica gosseliniana can form multiple ascending branches. This Opuntia variety may have spines in most areoles, only in upper areoles, or in none at all. The slender spines vary from relatively short and stiff to long and flexible, up to 10 cm. Additionally, the spine color varies from cream to bright yellow and through shades of orange- and reddish-brown to nearly black.
Flowers are generally yellow from bluntly pointed buds. The stigma lobes are generally pale. Flowers are 5-7.5 cm across. Fruit is elliptical to cylindrical. This variety has smaller and relatively more slender fruit than vars chlorotica and santa-rita.
O. chlorotica gosseliniana is diploid.
This prickly pear is native to Mexico, and it barely reaches into the United States in far southern Arizona on land of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Thus, is is not commonly encountered. The garden plant often sold as O. santa-rita ‘Tubac’ may actually be a horticultural selection of O. chloritica gosselliniana.