Opuntia lubrica

Opuntia lubrica
Opuntia lubrica

Griffiths, Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden 21: 169, 1910

Herbarium; Drawing (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, fig 174); Painting; Painting

What is Opuntia lubrica?

Opuntia lubrica is a prickly pear cactus that has some similarity to O. rufida. However, O. lubrica has shiny pads that are not pubescent as in the other cactus.

Details

Cladodes of the current year may be nearly circular or obovate and 15 cm inches wide by approximately 20 cm long.  This prickly pear has tight, dense clumps of prominent but short glochids (4-5 mm), yellow to dark rust red, in a crescent adaxially. Glochids can increase in number and length on older stems and may eventually populate the entirety of areoles rather than remaining in a cresent.  Sometimes there are a few spines or many (same color as the glochids), but often the plants are spineless. If spines are present they can increase with age to over  a dozen per areole. Spines may be 12 mm long or longer. 

The flowers are bright yellow, typically a little greenish in the center, sometimes developing a brassy or slightly orange hue as they age.  Fruit is often bright red with a green rind and red pulp. Fruit is juicy with lots of areoles and short glochids (much like those of O. rufida and O. microdasys, but larger). Seeds are small, about 3 mm across. 

Some O. lubrica plants are strongly purplish in Arizona, especially when they are stressed or dormant. The plants may reach 40-70 cm tall and have a habit similar to that of O. microdasys. Overall, it is a more robust plant than O. microdasysO. lubrica my make a low shrub to over 1-2 m wide.

See the original citation.

Dave Ferguson reports:

O. lubrica may have hybrid origins, and possibly the plants in Arizona are not related to the ones in eastern Mexico.  However, they all look related to one another. It is possible (but not at all demonstrated) that the plants in San Luis Potosi may be derived from O. cacanapa × O. microdasys.  In Coahuila they might be derived from O. cacanapa × O. rufida.  In Arizona they might be O. chlorotica santa-rita × O. microdasys.  These suppositions are not demonstrated and perhaps all 3 populations constitute a single species with a common origin. Also, if O. cacanapa or O. chlorotica santa-rita are proposed parental taxa, why is O. lubrica so small? 

In Mexico I have mostly seen the plants on rocky slopes east of, or in the eastern part of, the Chihuahuan Desert, usually not in stark desert conditions (in the same areas that O. cacanapa  favors).  In Mexico, I’ve never seen a plant with purplish coloring (other than a tiny hint around the areoles when it gets really cold, and only in some plants).  O. lubrica grows from at least as far north as the Monclova area and the Sierra de la Paila in Coahuila south into San Luis Potosi. There are never large colonies, just scattered individuals.

Opuntia riparia

Opuntia riparia
Opuntia riparia

Griffiths, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 27(6): 26, 1914

Herbarium (submitted as O.  engelmannii); Herbarium (O. riparia-like)

What is Opuntia riparia?

Opuntia riparia is a prickly pear cactus that grows in low, wide thickets in southern AZ. It rarely reaches waist high, but occasional cactus stems may reach to 1 to 1.2 m tall. 

Details

O. riparia plants form open, hemispherical shrubs generally to 25-30 cm tall, occasionally some branches reach up higher. Plants may occur together to form thickets. Pads are often obovate, elongate or elliptical, averaging about 20 cm long. The dark areoles are noticeably large and white spines are present in most of them. There are 2 to 6(8) white spines per areole with one or two small ones that are deflexed. Spines may or may not darken at the base. Spines on this Opuntia are an 1 to 2 cm long, stout, thick, and noticeably angular in cross section. 

Flowers are a rich bright yellow. The style is white and the dark green stigma is large (up to 1 cm across when expanded). Ovaries and fruits may be somewhat to distinctly elongate, with ovaries usually turbinate and fruits usually ovoid. Fruits may sometimes be narrowed or tapered at the base.  The seeds are not large but are larger than those of O. engelmannii, a large prickly pear.

O. angustata and O. riparia are similar and may in fact represent the same taxon. O. riparia occurs further south than O. angustata (near Superior, Arizona and below). Read the original description of O.  riparia

Opuntia arizonica

Opuntia arizonica
Opuntia arizonica

Griffiths, Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden 20: 93, 1909

Holotype; Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumPainting (watercolor over photograph, Krieger and Griffith, 1915, Smithsonian Institution Archive); Photograph (D Griffiths, ca. 1910); Photograph (D Griffiths, ca. 1910); Photograph (Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 20: 1909)

What is Opuntia arizonica?

Opuntia arizonica is a seldom-reported species of prickly pear cactus. It is not rare but is usually lumped into O. engelmannii as a spiny and small specimen and thus is an unnoticed Opuntia. It has been found near Congress, AZ in Tucson, AZ, in central NM, and in the greater El Paso region. 

Details

This prickly pear cactus resembles O. engelmannii but is spinier. Additionally this particular Opuntia is decidedly smaller than the large O. engelmannii. O. arizonica may be nearly prostrate or may ascend to 30-40 cm tall or a bit more. Plants my be 50 cm across, or they may sprawl to 1 m. Cladodes are typically 25-30 cm across and subcircular. Areoles become relatively large and even up to 8-11 mm in longest diameter on the edges of pads. They darken with age. Sometimes the tissue of an areole my proliferate creating a bump in the center. There are (2)3-4(6) stout spines per areole on this Opuntia; the longest may be 2.5 to 5 cm long. Glochids may be scattered throughout the areoles, but are most numerous in the upper portion.

Flowers are average in size and yellow. The fruit of this prickly pear is reported to be subglobose, but we have observed egg-shaped fruit. O. arizonica may be the same taxon as O. sp nova aff engelmannii. See the original citation. Ploidy is not known.

Opuntia canada

Opuntia canada
Opuntia canada

Griffiths, Annual report Missouri Botanical Garden 20: 90, 1909

Holotype; Topotype; Herbarium (as O. engelmannii); Painting

What is Opuntia canada?

Opuntia canada is a large, erect, ascending cactus that grows in far southern AZ. It is a compact-appearing prickly pear. 

Details

O.  canada grows in thickets or singly. This Opuntia may reach 1 m in height, but taller plants are known. It has ovate or obovate cladodes approximately 16 by 22 cm. But cladodes are variable in size, especially when young. Areoles are brown when young but turn black. However, they often retain a brown center because new wool continually develops in the center of the areole. Spines may not be present till cladodes are two years-old, but then they may be conspicuous. Spines are variable but are commonly yellow when young and bleaching to white. There are (1)2-3(5) spines per areoles, about 12-15 mm in length. They increase in number and length on older growth. 

The flowers are yellow but may be tinged with reddish or orange on the bases of the inner tepals. The style is white or white tinged with red. The stigma is bright green. Fruit may be light-red or mottled yellow and red. Seeds are flat but thick and angular, 3-3.5 mm in diameter with a prominently notched hilum. 

O. canada shares similarities with spiny forms of O. laevis; however, the two Opuntia species are consistently different. For instance, O. laevis grows on canyon walls or the rubble at the base, whereas O. canada grows in deeper soils, often on canyon floors. Also, in contrast to O. laevis, O. canada has hairless seedlings and relatively short fruits. See the original description.

Opuntia laevis

Opuntia laevis
Opuntia laevis

Coulter, Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium 3: 419, 1896

Holotype; Isotype; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumPainting (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXVIII, No. 1, back right)

What is Opuntia laevis?

Opuntia laevis is a sometimes spineless prickly pear cactus that grows in various locations in southern AZ but particularly on canyon walls or in the rubble below rather than canyon floors.

Details

O. laevis plants are naturally spineless, or they may have a few short spines at the tips of cladodes or along the surface, but just a few. Cladodes on this prickly pear may be large, up to 10-12 cm wide and 30 cm long. They are often narrow proximally or may be elliptical, long-obovate, or sometimes obovate. Areoles are small, 3-4 mm long. Leaves are modestly recurved. 

Flowers are yellow and tinged with red, about 6 cm broad. Stigmas are slender. The fruit is pyriform, 5-6(8) cm long and deeply umbilicate. The seeds are irregular and about 5 mm in diameter with a thick, undulate margin. 

A proposal has been made to place O. laevis as a variety of O. engelmannii, but we continue to accept O. laevis as a stand-alone species. Because it is nearly spineless, it is sometimes misidentified in gardens as Burbank’s spineless cactus or even O. cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’.

 See original description. O. laevis is hexaploid.

Opuntia toumeyi

 

Opuntia toumeyi
Opuntia toumeyi

Rose, Contributions from the U. S. National Herbarium 12: 402, 1909

Holotype; Herbarium; Herbarium (O. toumeyi-like); Herbarium (O. toumeyi-like); Herbarium (O. toumeyi-like); Herbarium (O. toumeyi-like)

What is Opuntia toumeyi?

Opuntia toumeyi is a low but not prostrate, bushy prickly pear cactus with pads narrowed towards the base. The cactus may appear yellowish-green and has brownish-white or white spines.

Details

There are 1-4 spines but usually 1 or 2. There is often one central spine that is dominant and longer than all the other spines in an areole (sometimes it is missing on some pads but rarely all pads, and sometimes there is more than one). The dominant spine is porrect or semi-reflexed. Spination may seem similar to that in O. flavispina, but the spines are not true yellow, and the long spine is not reflexed so intensely. Also, O. toumeyi is lower and more spreading than O. flavispina, and glochids are red-brown or paler but not yellow. 

Flowers are bright yellow, sometimes with a bit of bronze or orange at the base. Flowers may change to orange or even reddish-orange on day two. The stigmas are green, and the filaments are yellow.

O. toumeyi patches may seem yellowish compared to other Opuntia species. It is lower and more spreading than O. flavispina. Mature cladodes are often 15-20 cm long. O. toumeyi grows in the gravelly foothills and mountains in southern Arizona and in Sonora, Mexico. See the original citation.

This Opuntia would make an excellent medium-sized garden plant. Its ultimate cold-hardiness is unknown. 

 

Opuntia blakeana

Opuntia blakeana
Opuntia blakeana

Rose, Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 12: 402, 1909

Holotype; Isotype; IsotypeHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

What is Opuntia blakeana?

Opuntia blakeana is a small, low, spreading, Sonoran Desert prickly pear cactus.

Details

The cladodes of O. blakeana are typically dark green but may have brown or purple coloration around the areoles. Plants rarely reach 60 cm and are often shorter from prostrate-ascending, spreading branches. Short erect branches rise from spreading branches. Old branches may trail on the ground. Cladodes are 1-1.5 cm and and longish obovate. The spines are short and light- or dark-brown, or they may be tan. Often there are 2-3 spines per areole. When present, the dark-brown spines create a handsome Opuntia. The flowers are yellow and often reddish in the center. The plants have limited similarity with O. camanchica, and the flowers and fruits are similar to those of O. phaeacantha.

This prickly pear occurs in the greater Tucson, AZ area and probably throughout southern AZ and adjacent northern Mexico. See the original original description.

Opuntia chlorotica gosseliniana

Opuntia chlorotica gosseliniana
Opuntia chlorotica gosseliniana

(Weber) Ferguson, Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 60: 159, 1988

Isotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

What is Opuntia chlorotica gosseliniana?

O. chlorotica gosseliniana is one of three varieties: chlorotica, santa-rita, and gosseliniana within the O. chlorotica complex as described by Ferguson (1988)

Details

These prickly pear cacti may reach 1 m tall (usually shorter), and are almost always tinted with pink or purple or bluish purple. Like O. chlorotica chlorotica, O. chlorotica gosseliniana has needle-like spines on older trunks and branches. Unlike O. chlorotica chlorotica, O. chlorotica gosseliniana can form multiple ascending branches. This Opuntia variety may have spines in most areoles, only in upper areoles, or in none at all.  The slender spines vary from relatively short and stiff to long and flexible, up to 10 cm.  Additionally, the spine color varies from cream to bright yellow and through shades of orange- and reddish-brown to nearly black. 

Flowers are generally yellow from bluntly pointed buds. The stigma lobes are generally pale. Flowers are 5-7.5 cm across. Fruit is elliptical to cyclindrical. This variety has smaller and relatively more slender fruit than vars chlorotica and santa-rita.

See the original description. O. chlorotica gosseliniana is diploid. 

This prickly pear is native to Mexico, and it barely reaches into the United States in far southern Arizona on land of the Tohono O’odham Nation. Thus is is a very uncommon Opuntia in the United States.  

Opuntia chlorotica santa-rita

Griffiths & Hare, New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 60: 64, 1906

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

Opuntia chlorotica santa-rita
Opuntia chlorotica santa-rita

What is Opuntia chlorotica santa-rita?

Opuntia chlorotica santa-rita is one of three varieties of the prickly pear cactus,  Opuntia chlorotica. The varieties are santa-rita, gosseliniana, and chlorotica (Ferguson 1988). Santa rita is the most handsome. 

Details

O. chlorotica santa-rita is an upright, open-branching cactus to 1.5 m with a distinct trunk (sometimes two trunks) up to 15 cm across. The cladodes are suborbicular, orbicular, or rarely obovate or even pointed. Cladodes are about 12 to 18 cm across with a bluish or purplish cast. Some individuals are strongly colored. Spines are absent in this Opuntia, or there may be 1(3) per in a few areoles at the tips of the cladodes. If spines are present they are yellow to reddish-brown or sometimes darker, and 2-3 cm long. 

Britton and Rose described the flowers of this Opuntia as very handsome, deep yellow, and 6 to 9 cm across. The filaments and style are white, and the stigma is white or yellow.  The fruit is oval and depressed at the apex; it is purple outwardly and greenish within and pleasant to taste. 

Britton and Rose reported that the type locality of this Opuntia is the Celero Mts [Salero Mt?] of AZ. It was also described from the Santa Rita Mountains. Britton and Rose also reported that, “All gradations of spine characters may be found between this and the typical, very spiny Opuntia chlorotica.”

Read the original description. O. chlorotica santa-rita is diploid.

O. chlorotica santa-rita is a sumptuous and large garden plant. Its coloration alone makes it valuable, and the large, colorful flowers are a bonus. Cold-hardiness seems likely to be moderate (USDA climate zone 7?). 

Opuntia martiniana

Opuntia martiniana
Opuntia martiniana

(L.D. Benson) B.D. Parfitt, Systematic Botany 5(4): 416, 1980 [1981]

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

It is proposed that O. martiniana is related to O. chlorotica chlorotica

What is Opuntia martiniana?

Opuntia martiniana is a prickly pear cactus found sporadically on gravelly or rocky soils between 1200-1650 m ft in northwest Arizona and adjacent Nevada and California.

Details

O. martiniana cladodes are often circular or subcircular with long spines arising from the areoles. Cladodes are 9-16 cm across. The spines are pale yellow at the tips, changing to yellow and yellow-brown, and sometimes finally brown at the base. Overall the spines may appear golden or yellowish-brown. Most areoles have spines; typically there are 2 strong ones that are semi-vertical to the pad surface. Two or three lesser spines may be present but without such vertical presence.

Flowers are yellow and may have a style swollen at the midpoint. The pericarp is more slender than in O. curvospina. Areoles are few on the fruit. The ovary apex at anthesis is about 1.5 cm across. 

Parfitt (1980) reported that O. martiniana is superficially similar to O. curvospina but is distinguished by its style shape and other characters. For instance, O. martiniana is a shorter plant at about 60 cm. See a description by Parfitt. O. martiniana is tetraploid.

Read more below thumbnails.



Dave Ferguson writes:

We have not examined the type specimen for this species, but Benson seems to have used the name for different plants. The proper use of the name hinges on what the type specimen really is. Benson seems to have been redescribing Opuntia gilvescens, and most of his published photos are of that species (some of the color photos are of other species, likely all O. phaeacantha). None of Benson’s photos are of the plant that Pinkava and Parfitt called Opuntia martiniana. It seems odd that Benson would misinterpret his own species, but it’s possible. It seems that the type specimen should match his photos and should be O. gilvescens.

Pinkava considered the type specimen to be the same as yellow-spined, semi-erect plants that are most like O. azurea and/or O. macrocentra. Pinkava’s yellow-spined plant is found in the mountains of the Kingman area in Arizona and is very distinctive. Earle called the plant O. superbospina, but that name doesn’t fit either, for that plant is purported to be low-growing with very long spines. 

Top of page.