Opuntia vaseyi


Opuntia vaseyi
Opuntia vaseyi

Coulter, Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium 3: 432, 1892-1896

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (holotype, deposited as O. magenta); Lectotype (O. mesacantha vaseyi); Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Holotype (O. intricata); Isotype (O. intricata); 

Original Description (as O. mesacantha vaseyi)

What is Opuntia vaseyi?

Opuntia vaseyi is a low, spreading, bushy prickly pear cactus found “along and near the coast of southern California.” It often forms thickets 25 to 40 cm tall. 


Cladodes are elongate-obovate and generally narrow, but exceptions occur. The cladodes have relatively large areoles and 2-3(4) reddish-brown spines that may be deflexed. Spines may be 1.5 to 3 cm long. 

Most plants have pink-, red-, or magenta-colored flowers, but some plants have yellow flowers.  The pinkish or reddish flowers are a diagnostic feature of the plant in southern California. The fruit of this Opuntia is essentially spineless and about 5 cm long. 

O. vaseyi is hexaploid.

Other Notes

This cactus has variously been known by many names including O. magenta, O. intricata, O. vaseyi var magenta, and O. rubiflora. It was even lumped into O. littoralis. When first described the taxon was named Opuntia mesacantha vaseyi.

Britton and Rose pointed out that the type locality of Arizona must be presumed to be wrong because the prickly pear is found only in Southern California.

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