Opuntia littoralis

Opuntia littoralis
Opuntia littoralis

(Engelmann) Britton & Rose, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 50: 529, 1908

Lectotype; Syntype; Lectotype; Lectotype; Lectotype; Lectotype

Original Citation

What is Opuntia littoralis?

Opuntia littoralis is a California prickly pear cactus that was originally described as a variety of O. engelmannii, but the two species are not closely related.


O. littoralis plants may be low and spreading, but they send branches upright to 1 m as well. The oblong or obicular cladodes are 12-15 cm across the shortest diameter. Areoles may be elevated. Spines are numerous and yellow or pale yellow and may be 1 cm long or longer. There are multiple pale spines over much of the pad surface creating a shaggy look.

The flowers are yellow and 8 to 12 cm across. The red fruit is may be nearly globular or can be oblong. Seeds are 4-5 mm in diameter.

Opuntia littoralis may be hexaploid.

Other Notes

O. littoralis is found “along and near” the coast of California, but Britton and Rose reported that a sample was collected at Elsinore, California. The type locality is “coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego, California”. 

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