Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 906, 1933
What is Opuntia nitens?
Opuntia nitens is a small (1 m tall but often shorter), erect prickly pear cactus that grows in Florida that is related to O. austrina.
Cladodes are 6-15 cm long and dull-green or yellow-green. Spines on this cactus are often single but there may be up to 4 per areole, and they may be 2-4 cm long. Spines are brown with a light tip when new and gray or dark-gray when aged. They can point straight out from the areoles in an attractive manner.
Flowers are light yellow and about 6 cm wide. Anthers are about 2.5 mm long. The fruit is often reddish or red-purple. Overall, the fruit is egg-shaped and about 4 cm long but can narrow at the base to form a neck. The umbilicus is concave. Seeds are numerous and about 4 mm in diameter.
Ploidy is unknown.
O. nitens is not rare in Florida, but it is not commonly found, being displaced by development and agriculture. It was described from specimens found on hammocks and shell mounds on the western side of the Halifax River in Florida. Overall, this taxon is similar to O. austrina, and perhaps they are variants of a single species.