Opuntia species

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Scientific Name Opuntia phaeacantha USDA PLANTS Symbol
Common Name Tulip Pricklypear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
Description Life zones and habitat: Plains to foothills (4600 to 7500 ft); sandy to rocky soils in open, dry areas.
Plant: Variable species. Low-growing, sprawling, decumbent perennial 12 to 24 inches tall in summer; lower in winter as stems collapse.
Pads & Spines: Green pads flat, rounded 4 to almost 10 inches long and 2-3/4 to 8-1/4 inches across; areoles 3/8 to 3/4-inch apart, tan to brown turning gray with age; none or 2 to 8 spines per areole in upper 3/4 portion of pad, each 1-1/8 to 3-1/8 inches long, brown to red-brown or chalky white; dense brown glochid tufts 2/10 inch tall.
Inflorescence: Yellow flowers with red near the base, sometimes entirely pink or red,up to 1-5/8 inches long; many stamens, filaments greenish (lower) to pale yellow or white (upper); white style supporting green to yellow-green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: June to July.
Fruit: Fleshy, red to purple, spineless, obovate to barrel-shaped, 1-1/8 to 2 inches long and 3/4 to 1-1/8 inches across.
References: SEINet, www.opuntiads.com and "Flora of Colorado" by Jennifer Ackerfield.
Colorado Status
Scientific Name Opuntia polyacantha var. polyacantha USDA PLANTS Symbol
Common Name Hairspine Pricklypear, Starvation Pricklypear ITIS Taxonomic Serial No.
Family Cactaceae (Cactus)
Description Life zones and habitat: Plains to montane (3500 to 9200 ft); clay, sandy or gravelly soils in open areas, grasslands, and woodlands.
Plant: Highly variable. Low-growing, spreading perennial 4 to 20 inches tall.
Pads & Spines:Broadly obovate to circular, flat pads, 3-3/8 to 4-3/4 inches long and 2-1/8 to 4-3/8 inches wide; areaole closely-spaced, 3/8-inch or less apart; usually 1 stiff central spine 1 to nearly 2 inches long per areole, often with 2 shorter central spines and several or numerous smaller radial spines; lower central spines may be flexible and curling; highly variable spine color.
Inflorescence: Solitary blossoms 1-1/4 to 2 inches across, yellow or yellow with reddish centers, to entirely orange or magenta; white, to cream-colored, yellowish or red filaments; cream-colored to pinkish style and dark green stigma lobes.
Bloom Period: June to August.
Fruit: Small, dry, spiny; about 1 inch or less long.
References: SEINet, www.opuntiads.com, "Flora of Colorado" by Jennifer Ackerfield and "Cacti of Texas" by Powell, Weedin and Powell.
Colorado Status

© Tom Lebsack 2019