Opuntia zebrina

Opuntia zebrina
Opuntia zebrina

Small, Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 20: 35, 1919


Original Description

What is Opuntia zebrina?

Opuntia zebrina is a medium-sized prickly pear cactus of the Florida Keys. It is named “zebrina” because it has spines that are banded yellow (tan) and dark brown.


O. zebrina grows to 1 m tall or less. Cladodes are oval or obovate and 10 to 20 cm long. Lower areoles have no spines and upper areoles are irregularly spined. 

Flowers are few and yellow, solitary. The fruit is obovoid and may or may not be constricted at the base. Fruit is about 4 cm long. Seeds are 6-7 cm in diameter. 

Ploidy is unknown. 

Other Notes

O. zebrina has some similarities with O. dillenii, but the plants are smaller and more cold sensitive. Also, the banded spines are unique to O. zebrina, whereas O.  dillenii spines are generally solid yellow. Additionally, O. zebrina often has fewer spines than O. dillenii, sometimes having only 1 at surface areoles and 2-3 on edges (see herbarium sample above). Perhaps O. zebrina is merely a variant of O. dillenii.

Like many plants of the Florida Keys, O. zebrina is threatened by loss of habitat. 

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