Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 1933, 910
Opuntia turbinata occurs in colonies along the coast. The cladodes are obovate, oval, or nearly circular, 4- to 6-inches long and thick. There are 1-2(4) spines at many areoles. Spines may be 1/2- to 1-inch long. It has been found in northeastern Nassau County, FL; Duval County, FL; and in coastal southeastern GA. Because this species is confined to a small geographical area, it is a candidate for consideration as a protected species. Some botanists consider O. turbinata to be a morphotype of O. stricta, but we treat it as a distinct species herein. Read the original description.
Opuntia turbinata produces two types of growth: 1) horizontal-growing and soil-hugging cladodes that create a diffuse pattern, and 2) erect stems that arise from the horizontal stems. Over time the cladodes of the horizontal stems thicken and lignify extensively and may even become deeply buried in beach sand. The erect stems are composed of smaller cladodes and seldom reach a meter in height–often being 2-ft tall or less. Essentially all of the flowering occurs on the erect stems.
O. ammophila, which has been confused with O. turbinata, commonly has a discernible central trunk and does not grow along the ground.