Opuntia oricola

Opuntia oricola
Opuntia oricola

Philbrick, Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 36(6): 163, 1964

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium 

What is Opuntia oricola?

Opuntia oricola is a medium-sized, easy-to-recognize prickly pear cactus found in coastal CA. 


O. oricola grows to 3 m tall. The pads are 15 to 26 cm long and 12 to 19 cm wide, elliptic to circular. Spines are yellow, translucent, and narrow. Centrals may be twice as long as radials, and spines are present in essentially all areoles.

The flower is yellow but may have tinges of red or orange on outer tepals. The style is bright red with a bulbous base, the stigma lobes are yellow or golden. The fruit of this Opuntia is spherical or egg shaped with a deep umbilicus. Fruit is medium-red with many areoles that have copious, brown glochids 

O. oricola is the one cactus that was called O. littoralis the most consistently (but incorrectly) until Philbrick fixed the problem by naming it O. oricola. Everything got confused when, at the same time, L Benson expanded the concept of O. littoralis to include other taxa (including O. oricola). O. oricola is nothing like O. littoralis.

This prickly pear cactus grows from Santa Barbara, CA to Ensenada, MX, including the Channel Islands. It typically occurs with coastal sage vegetation in disturbed habitats on south-facing slopes at 150 m or less. See the original description. O. oricola is triploid.

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