(Haworth) Haworth, Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum 195, 1812
Opuntia pusilla is a plant of the coastal plains from North Carolina, across northern Florida, to Mississippi. In some locations O. pusilla occurs more than 150 miles inland an. Possibly O. drummondii is a suitable name for this taxon (L Majure, page 167). Some reports (Weniger, 1988) place it on the northern Gulf Coast of Texas also, but the authors have not observed it there. Several other specific epithets have been applied to this smallest of the southeastern opuntias including tracyi, and pes-corvi. Perhaps these are synonyms or perhaps they are discrete taxa yet to be sorted out. See the Cytogeography of the humifusa clade of Opuntia. See the original description.
O. pusilla has been reported to be diploid, triploid, and tetraploid. These data indicate that there are different, but similar-appearing taxa, or they may may only represent ploidy differences within a single taxon. All are treated as a single taxon herein.
O. pusilla has small pads, 1- to 2-inches long by 1/2- to 1-inch wide. Often, the small pads have one stout spine per areole, especially over the distal half of the cladode. The pads are fragile, i.e., they break apart easily into small chains or single cladodes. The small segments attach to shoes, clothing, and animals.