Opuntia species

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Scientific Name Opuntia azurea var. parva USDA PLANTS Symbol
N/A
Common Name Big Bend Purplish Prickly Pear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
N/A
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
SEINet Reference
Description Habitat: Desert habitats only in Big Bend area from 1900 to 3700 ft.
Plant: Many-branched, sprawling plant 1 to 3 ft high.
Pads & Spines: Pale blue-green to bluish-gray pads, upper obovate with tapered bases, lower nearly circular, 3 to 7-1/2 inches long and up to 5-1/2 inches wide; tinged with purple especially around areoles, becoming predominantly purple during droughts. Spines in upper portion and edges of pads, 1 to 3 spines per areole up to 4-3/4 inches long (sometimes longer), black to dark red with white tips.
Inflorescence: Young flowers yellow, becoming orange-red by late afternoon; up to 3-1/8 inches across; yellow filaments and anthers, cream-colored style with green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: March to May.
Fruit: Pale red to purple, ovate to obovate, 5/8 to 1-1/8-inch long and up to 1 inch across.
References: "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell.
Notes: O. azurea not yet recognized at USDA Plants or ITIS. Previously identified here as O. macrocentra, however, according to the above reference that species does not exist in Brewster County and Big Bend.
Texas Status
Native
Endemic to Big Bend area, common throughout Brewster County
Scientific Name Opuntia dulcis (Opuntia engelmanni var. dulcis, Opuntia lindheimeri var. dulcis) USDA PLANTS Symbol
OPEND
Common Name Sweet Prickly Pear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
538006
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
SEINet Reference
Description Habitat: Desert environments along the Rio Grande from Big Bend northwest to at least El Paso; 2200 to 3500 ft. elevation.
Plant: Summer: Sprawling plant up to 3 to 5 feet high.
Pads & Spines: Pads obovate to suborbicular, 6 to 7 inches long, 4 to 6 inches across; usually 2 spines per areole, about 1-1/4 inches long; lower portions light brown to nearly white above.
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers with pale or bright red center; 2 to 2-3/4 inches across; pale green to cream-colored or colorless filaments about 5/8-inch long, yellow anthers; colorless or pinkish style with light green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: April to May.
Fruit: Smooth with a few areoles and no spines; obovate to inverse conical shape, reddish, about 2 inches long, 1 to 1-1/4 inches diameter.
References: "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell.
Texas Status
Native
Scientific Name Opuntia engelmannii var. engelmannii (Opuntia phaeacantha var. discata) USDA PLANTS Symbol
OPENE
Common Name Engelmann's Prickly Pear, Cactus Apple ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
913651
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
SEINet Reference
Description Habitat: Desert habitat; dry, sandy, rocky soils from 1000 to 6000 ft., primarily in southwest Texas west of the Pecos River.
Plant: Upright, spreading branches 3 to 5 feet high (higher in ideal growing conditions).
Pads & Spines: Pads obovate, broadly elliptic or orbicular, 8 to 12 inches long, 6 to 10 inches across; variable spines, white or gray covering entire surface, 1 to 2 inches long, usually 1 to 4 per areole (or 0 to 5).
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers without red center, becoming pale orange late in the day; occasionally orange veins on inner tepals; about 3 inches across; cream-colored to pale green filaments, yellow anthers; cream-colored style with green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: April to July.
Fruit: Barrel- or oval-shaped, purple to dark reddish-purple, 2-1/4 to 3-1/4 inches long, 1-1/4 to 2 inches diameter.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston and "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell.
Texas Status
Native
Scientific Name Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri (Opuntia lindheimeri) USDA PLANTS Symbol
OPENL
Common Name Texas Prickly Pear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
195321
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
SEINet Reference
Description Habitat: Sandy, gravelly or rocky soils from 1000 to 1800 ft.
Plant: Large, sprawling plant 1-1/2 to 6 feet high and up to 15 feet across.
Pads & Spines: Pads obovate to orbicular, 6 to 12 inches long, 4-3/4 to 10 inches across; 1 to 5 spines per areole, yellow or whitish-yellow, sometimes with red or reddish-brown bases, aging blackish, 1-1/4 to 3 inches long.
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers without red center, becoming orange or reddish late in the day and early second day; occasionally orange veins on inner tepals; 2 to 3-1/4 inches across; cream-colored filaments and anthers; greenish-yellow to white style with dark green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: April to June.
Fruit: Pear-shaped, purple to dark reddish-purple, 1-1/4 to 2-3/4 inches long, 1 to 1-1/2 inches diameter.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell and SEINet.
Texas Status
Native
Scientific Name Opuntia rufida USDA PLANTS Symbol
OPRU3
Common Name Blind Prickly Pear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
19731
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
SEINet Reference
Description Habitat: Desert habitats; limestone and igneous soils and rocks on flats, hillsides, canyons; from 1800 to 4000 ft.
Plant: Erect shrub 2 to 5 feet high, multiple branches.
Pads & Spines: Circular, obovate or elliptic, gray-green pads 3 to 10 inches across; with many spineless areoles; areoles have white to gray hairs and conspicuous reddish-brown glochids.
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers becoming apricot to orange later in the day; 1-3/4 to 3 inches across; white filaments, yellow to cream colored, colorless to green style with dark green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: April and May.
Fruit: Ovoid-shaped, greenish-red, 3/4 to 1 inch across; spineless.
References: "Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas" by Correll and Johnston, "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell and SEINet.
Texas Status
Native
Endemic to Big Bend area along the Rio Grande
Scientific Name Opuntia spinosibacca (Opuntia X spinosibacca) USDA PLANTS Symbol
OPSP7
Common Name Spiny-fruit Prickly Pear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
195355
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
Flora of North America Reference
Description Habitat: Hot, dry limestone soils of slopes and canyons of eastern portion of Big Bend National Park, 1600 to 2300 ft.
Plant: Upright, compact plants 3 to 5 feet tall.
Pads & Spines: Light green to yellowish green pads 4 to 8 inches long and up to 6 inches wide; often purple near areoles. Spines white with red base, becoming dark red-brown with pale tips, aging gray, 3/4 to 2-3/4 inches long; upper areoles with 4 to 8, lower with one or more.
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers with red centers, 2 to 2-3/4 inches across; pale green to cream-colored filaments, anthers pale yellow, style white to pinkish, stigma lobes pale green to cream-yellow.
Bloom Period: March to May.
Fruit: Ovoid to obconic, greenish-yellow becoming tan to yellowish or reddish; 1 to 1-3/4 inches long, 1/2 to 1 inch across; many spines mostly around the rim, reddish brown and 1-inch long.
References: “Cacti of Texas” by Powell, Weedin and Powell and Flora of North America.
Notes: Previously treated as O. X spinosibacca, a hybrid of O. aureispina and O. phaeacantha.
Texas Status
Native
Endemic to small region along eastern edge of Big Bend National Park

© Tom Lebsack 2019