Opuntia lindheimeri (incl ‘linguiformis’)

Engelmann, Boston Journal of Natural History 6: 207, 1850

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (subaramata); Herbarium (linguiformis); Herbarium (linguiformis); Drawing (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXXI); Drawing (Britton and Rose, v 1 1919, plate XXX, linguiformis)

See checklist of differences between O. lindheimeri and O. engelmannii.

Also see the entry for O. subaramata.


Opuntia lindheimeri is treated as a species separate and distinct from O. engelmannii herein. Britton and Rose also considered that O. lindheimeri is a stand-alone species. The point is not settled, and other botanists accept O. lindheimeri as a variety of O. engelmannii. Both have yellow flowers with green stigmas. Whatever their taxonomic relationship, the plants are easily distinguished when grown side-by-side and  do not generally overlap in their natural ranges. O. lindheimeri is a plant of deeper soils and more mesic conditions (central and eastern TX), whereas O. engelmannii is a true desert plant of rocky or shallow soils (western TX and the western deserts). See the original description. Like O. engelmannii, O. lindheimeri is hexaploid.

Read more below thumbnails.

We accept O. lindheimeri linguiformis as a garden form of O. lindheimeri. Powell and Weedin, (2004) described it as a cultivar (‘linguiformis’), but placed it in O. engelmannii.

O. lindheimeri spines are not chalky; they are translucent or shiny unlike the chalky spines of O. engelmannii. O. lindheimeri spines are yellow or have various mixtures or orange or reddish tints, whereas O. engelmannii spines are dull white, dull yellow, tan, brown, and rarely blackish over half their length. The bases of O. lindheimeri of spines are seldom true brown or black but may be red-brown, dark plum, rust-brown, or pink shades, whereas the bases of O. engelmannii spines are generally dark brown, black-brown, or black or occasionally dark red-brown.  Annular lines are easily visible on spines of O. lindheimeri but not so in O. engelmannii.

The relatedness O. lindheimeri with O. engelmannii is clear, and others (eg, Powell and Weedin, 2004) consider O. lindheimeri to be a variety of O. engelmannii. Powell and Weedin report an assemblage of names that may have been applied to O. lindheimeri at one time or another. Almost any large Opuntia in TX, NM, or AZ has probably been misidentified or misunderstood over the years, and O. lindheimeri is no exception.

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