Opuntia eburnispina

Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae vol IV, 260. 1923

Herbarium

What is Opuntia eburnispina?

Opuntia eburnispina is a rarely found prickly pear cactus from Cape Romano, Florida. It may be related to O. humifusa or O. austrina. Some botanists consider that O. burnispina is a variant of O. austrina

Details

O. burnispina is prostrate, widely branched and forming mats on dune sands. It has tuberous roots. The pads are oval or suborbicular, varying to broadest above middle, thickish, 6 to 13 cm. long, pale green, somewhat shining, especially when young. The leaves ovoid-subulate, 4 to 5 mm. long, pale green, recurved spreading. The spines relatively stout, 2 to 4 at an areole or sometimes solitary, 1 to 2 cm. long, ivory white with yellowish tips when young, becoming dark gray, not spirally twisted, greenish when wet.

Flowers are few; the ovary is obconic; the sepals are triangular, green, 5 to 7 mm. long. The flower is clear yellow, 4 to 5 cm wide. The petals are few, narrowly cuneate, often minutely pointed, and the berries obovoid about 2 cm. long or less. The seeds, at (ca. 3 mm), are smaller than those of O. austrina (ca. 5 mm). See the original description

Opuntia abjecta

Opuntia abjecta
Opuntia abjecta

Small ex Britton and Rose, The Cactaceae, Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family 4: 257, 1923

Herbarium; Herbarium

What is Opuntia abjecta?

Opuntia abjecta is a prickly pear cactus that occurs in the lower Florida Keys where it grows on bare limestone or where a bit of sand or humus has accumulated.

Details

This Opuntia grows up to 15 cm tall and forms multi-branched mats. The cladodes are 2-8 cm long and thickish. While not fragile, the cladodes are not firmly attached to each other. The longest spines on this prickly pear may be 4-5 cm. Like O. zebrina and unlike O. pusilla, this cactus has teardrop-shaped leaves. The seeds of O. abjecta are about 4 mm in diameter.

Some botanists have accepted this Opuntia as a synonym of O. triacantha. We accept O. abjecta as a taxon independent from O. triacantha (see the paper by Majure et al). The type locality is Big Pine Key, FL.

See the original citation. Both diploid and tetraploid forms of O. abjecta have been reported. 

 

Opuntia keyensis

Opuntia keyensis
Opuntia keyensis

Britton & Small, Journal of the New York Botanical Garden 20: 31, 1919

Herbarium; Herbarium; Black and White Photograph

What is Opuntia keyensis?

Opuntia keyensis is native Florida prickly pear cactus found in the Keys and Cape Sable.

Details

O. keyensis is a large, erect, multi-branched cactus that forms a shrub or small tree growing to 3 m tall, but shorter individuals are common. The bright-green cladodes are oval, obovate, or even spatulate–thick and 10-30 cm long. The spines are short and hidden within the 1-cm long glochids, but this prickly pear definitely has spines. The spines are stout, pink when new and salmon-colored at maturity. There are 4-13 spines per areole.

The flowers are solitary or several per cladode and pale pink or salmon-colored. The buds are short-pointed. The corolla is cup-like or short-campanulate, 3-3.5 cm wide, with relatively few tepals. The fruit is obovoid and 4-6 cm long, with a strong narrowing at the base. Seeds are numerous. 

O. keyensis is found on hammocks in the Florida Keys and in the Cape Sable region. It is found only near the ocean. See the original description.

Opuntia zebrina

Opuntia zebrina
Opuntia zebrina

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

Herbarium

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.

Details

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 not constricted at the base, about 4 cm long. Seeds are 6-7 cm in diameter. 

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). Moreover, fruit is not stipitate in O. zebrina. Areoles are raised as in O. dillenii. 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. Read the original description.

Opuntia tunoidea

Opuntia tunoidea
Opuntia tunoidea

Gibbes, Proceedings of the Elliott Society of Natural History 1: 272, 1859

O. bentonii is similar to O. tunoidea

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

What is Opuntia tunoidea?

Opuntia tunoidea is a prickly pear cactus that occurs along the coast of South Carolina. It has been confused over the years with O. dillenii (see Britton and Rose). 

Details

Opuntia tunoidea is erect or semi-erect to approximately .5 or 1 m tall, and the plants have large, ovate to obovate cladodes. The yellow spines may 1-1.5 cm long and are tipped with brown.

Flower details are not known. 

Gibbes reported the prickly pear suffered from cochineal scale (Dactylopius sp.), and we found plants infested with Cactoblastis cactorum. Interestingly this Opuntia has a general similarity to O. bentonii of the Gulf Coast, but there are differences. More studies are needed including comparisons of fruits, flowers, and overall morphology, etc. If the two taxa are the same, the correct name for O. bentonii would be O. tunoidea, the name with precedence. Read the original description.

O. tunoidea is unusual because it is a largish cactus that occurs in a northerly location on the Eastern Seaboard. It appears to occur infrequently though it is sometimes grown in local gardens. 

Opuntia stricta

Opuntia stricta
Opuntia stricta

(Haworth) Haworth, Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum 191, 1812

Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium

O. stricta has similarities with O. dillenii, another beach prickly pear

O. stricta is different from O. anahuacensis, but they are both beach prickly pears.

What is Opuntia stricta?

Opuntia stricta is a coastal prickly pear cactus that occurs on the shores of Florida and other southeastern states. The cactus may also occur in the Caribbean, the Atlantic coast of Central America, and on the northern shores of South America.

Details

The Flora of North America online reports: 

O. stricta is a sprawling or erect shrub up to 2 m across and 1 to 1.5 tall. Cladodes are green, flattened, narrowly elliptic or obovate and  10-25(-40) cm long by 7.5-15(-25) cm wide. The edges are generally not strongly scalloped, but may have shallow scallops. Spines are yellow, sometimes aging to brownish yellow. 

Flowers are light yellow and 25 to 30 mm long. Filaments are yellow as are the anthers. The style is yellowish as well. Fruits are purplish inside and out, stipitate, ellipsoid or barrel-shaped, 40-60 by 24-30 mm, juicy, and spineless. Sees are tan, and 4 by 4.5 mm with a 1 mm girdle. 

Britton and Rose reported that this Opuntia is found along the Texas coast, and Weniger (1988) reported that the prickly pear may be found in Galveston Bay. The reports of the plants in Texas may have referred to O. anahuacensis because the authors have not observed O. stricta in Texas. It does occur along the coasts of AL, MS, and GA. Often confused with O. dillenii, the two taxa are distinct and different. Read the original description. O. stricta is hexaploid, but tetraploid individuals have been reported. 

Although it is an easy plant to grow where temperatures do not drop below 20F, O. stricta is a sprawling plant and may give a garden an untidy look. 

Read more below thumbnails.


Danny Green reports:

The cladodes on the O. stricta are oval or spatulate, whereas those of O. dillenii are obovate and/or rhomboid.

The areoles on O. stricta tend to be flush with the surface of the cladode, whereas the areoles on Opuntia dillenii are elevated above the surface of the cladode. For this reason, the margins of the cladodes on Opuntia dillenii are scalloped or wavy unlike the to be smooth or straight margin of O. stricta.

The leaves of O. stricta are shorter, thicker, and pointed upward (more parallel to surface of the cladode). In contrast, the leaves of the other Opuntia tend to be longer (though not all the time), slimmer, and pointed outwards (more perpendicular to the surface of the cladode).

The spines on O. stricta tend to be straight and perpendicular to the surface of the cladode, and it is common for them to be mottled with brown and yellow. In contrast, the spines on O. dillenii tend to be slightly curved (sometimes very noticeably curved) and usually yellow without mottling. Populations of O. dillenii in the Florida Keys may have mottled spines. John Kunkel Small thought that these Keys prickly pears were a separate and distinct species and referred to it as O. zebrina.

O. stricta tends to be more shrubby in habit or even prostrate-ascending, usually between 2- to 5-ft tall. Exceptional specimens of O. dillenii may be 10-ft tall and have a very discernible trunk. However, it is more common to see shorter O. dillenii plants that are 3- to 6-ft tall. Irrespective of height, O.  dillenii is seldom prostrate-ascending.

Finally, cotyledon morphology separates the two Opuntia species. The cotyledons on O. stricta are heart shaped, half as long as those of O. dillenii, and pointed outward, whereas the cotyledons of O. dillenii are oval,  elongate, and pointed upwards.

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Opuntia pusilla (O. drummondii)

Opuntia pusilla
Opuntia pusilla

(Haworth) Haworth, Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum 195, 1812

Neotype; Neotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium;  Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (O. frustulenta); Painting

What is Opuntia pusilla?

Opuntia pusilla is a small prickly pear cactus of the coastal plains from North Carolina, across northern Florida, to Mississippi. While thought of as a beach cactus, this small prickly pear cactus occurs more than 150 miles inland.

Details

The stems of this prickly pear cactus are purplish-red under stress, flattened, elliptic to linear, sometimes subcylindric (to subspheric), 2.5-5(-8) × 1.2-2.5 cm. The stem segments are fragile and detach easily. Spines (0)1-2(-4) per areole are restricted the the distal half of the areoles, but some areoles may have no spines. Spines are porrect to spreading, terete and 20(30) mm.

The flowers of this Opuntia are completely yellow. Fruits become red-purple and are barrel shaped. Seeds are tan, subcircular, flattened, and 4 to 6 mm in diameter with a slight girdle. 

O. drummondii may be the correct name for this Opuntia (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

O. pusilla has been reported to be diploid, triploid, and tetraploid. These ploidies 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. See the original description.

Opuntia nitens

Opuntia nitens
Opuntia nitens

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 906, 1933

Herbarium; Herbarium

What is Opuntia nitens

Opuntia nitens is a small (1 m tall but often shorter), erect prickly pear cactus that grows in Florida.

Details

Cladodes are  6-15 cm long and dull-green or yellow-green. Spines on this cactus are often single but there may be up to 4 per areole, and they may be 2-4 cm long. Spines are brown with a light tip when new and gray or dark-gray when aged. They can point straight out from the areoles in an attractive manner.

Flowers are light yellow and about 6 cm wide. Anthers are about 2.5 mm long. The fruit is often reddish or red-purple. Overall, the fruit is egg-shaped and about 4 cm long but can narrow at the base to form a neck. The umbilicus is concave. Seeds are numerous and about 4 mm in diameter. 

O. nitens is not rare in Florida, but it is not commonly found, being displaced by development and agriculture. It was described from specimens found on hammocks and shell mounds on the western side of the Halifax River in Florida. Overall, this taxon is similar to O. austrina, and perhaps they are variants of a single species. Read the original description.

Opuntia turbinata

Opuntia turbinata
Opuntia turbinata

Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 1933, 910

What is Opuntia turbinata?

Opuntia turbinata is a prickly pear cactus that occurs in colonies along the coasts of Georgia and Florida where it  grows in sand dunes.

Details

O. turbinata is an erect, much-branched plant that is less than than 1 m tall. The cladodes are obovate, oval, or nearly circular, 10-15 cm long, and thick. There are 1-5 pale- to bright-yellow spines at many areoles. Spines may be up to 2-3 cm long.

The hypanthium of the flower is turbinate and the fruit is globose-turbinate. Flowers of this Opuntia are 4.5 to 5.5 cm wide.

This cactus has been found in northeastern Nassau County, FL; Duval County, FL; and in coastal southeastern GA. Because this prickly pear is confined to a small geographical area, it is a candidate for consideration as a protected Opuntia species. Some botanists consider O. turbinata to be a morphotype of O. stricta, but we accept it as a distinct species herein. Read the original description.

Read more below thumbnails.


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.

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Opuntia dillenii

Opuntia dillenii
Opuntia dillenii

(Ker Gawl.) Haworth Supplementum Plantarum Succulentarum. 79, 1819

Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbariumHerbariumHerbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium (O. dillenii tehuantepecana); Painting (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXVIII, No. 2); Print (Botanical Register 1817, 3: plate 255)

O. dillenii has similarities with O. stricta

See O. anahuacensis, another beach prickly pear

What is Opuntia dillenii?

Opuntia dillenii is a coastal prickly pear cactus of the southern Atlantic states , the Caribbean Islands, the Gulf Coast of Mexico, and Northern South America.

Details

O. dillenii may reach 1 m tall but can reach 2 m in older groupings. Extensive stands sometimes make impenetrable thickets a meter tall. Pads are often 10 × 16 cm but may be smaller or larger. The areoles have 1 to 5(10) yellow or brownish-yellow spines. Spines may be 2-4 cm long. Areoles are raised above the cladode surface creating a  dimpled look. Scalloped and dimpled cladodes with ample spines create a distinctive appearance in this Opuntia

Yellow flowers produce reddish-purple fruits. They style is pale and the stigma is yellow. Filaments are yellow-green or green. Fruits are oval or spherical with pronounced, almost stipe-like necks. The umbilicus is moderately shallow. Areoles are clustered towards the top of the fruit.  

This prickly pear has spread to other continents including South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia and is an invasive plant disrupting pastures, croplands, and natural habitats. The species is often confused with O. stricta, and this has obscured its actual current and former distribution. One reason for its weediness may be its ability to grow in various habitats such as woodlands, grasslands, creek banks, and disturbed areas such as roadsides even though it is considered a coastal species. It also tolerates a variety of soils and mild frosts. 

Some botanists treat O. dillenii as a variety of O. stricta, and some treatments don’t even recognize it. Both plants may grow in similar habitats, but they are dissimilar. One important (but not universal) difference is that O. dillenii has pads with scalloped edges, whereas O. stricta does not or has less pronounced edge crenations. Additionally, O. dillenii it is a much spinier Opuntia than O. stricta. O. zebrina of southern FL may be a form of O. dillenii. Various ploidies have been reported for O. dillenii but it may be hexaploid. If different ploidies exist, the variants may represent two or more taxa. See the original description.

O. dillenii is an interesting garden plant, but it must be pruned to keep it in check in smaller gardens. 

Article: O. dillenii, an Interesting and Promising Taxon