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Origin and Habitat: This wide-ranging species occurs in central and southwestern Mexico and southwest United States, stretching to the north. Mexico (Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Zacatecas); United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah). In Texas it spreads from the Trans-Pecos and Big Bend eastward through the Edwards Plateau and north into the Panhandle.
Altitude range: 200-2,100 metres above sea level.
Habitat and ecoogy: Opuntia phaeacantha is a common prickly pear throughout the Southwest of USA. This species is found in sandy to rocky soils of deserts of hills, flats, valleys, it also grows on cliffs and canyon walls, in grasslands, pine-juniper, xerophyllous scrub, chaparral, and surrounding mountains and plains. Flowering Season This prickly pear is expected to bloom from April through August. Flowers open midday or early afternoon, close at night, and seldom reopen. O. phaeacantha has a very wide range, is very abundant, and there are no threats. A potential threat to species of the genus Opuntia is the invasion of the cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum, which can exterminate populations completely.
- Opuntia phaeacantha Engelm.
Opuntia phaeacantha Engelm.
Mem. Amer. Acad. Arts n.s. 4(1): 51–52 1849.
- Opuntia phaeacantha Engelm.
- Opuntia angustata Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow
- Opuntia dulcis Engelm.
- Opuntia mojavensis Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. brunnea Engelm.
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. chihuahuensis (Rose) Bravo
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. laevis (J.M.Coult.) L.D.Benson
- Opuntia laevis J.M.Coult.
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. major Engelm.
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. nigricans Engelm.
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. spinosibacca (M.S.Anthony) L.D.Benson
- Opuntia spinosibacca M.S.Anthony
- Opuntia superbospina Griffiths
- Opuntia zuniensis Griffiths
Opuntia phaeacantha var. camanchica (Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow) L.D.Benson
Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 41(3): 125 1969.
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. camanchica (Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow) L.D.Benson
Opuntia phaeacantha var. wootonii (Griffiths) L.D.Benson
Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 41(3): 125 125 1969
- Opuntia phaeacantha var. wootonii (Griffiths) L.D.Benson
ENGLISH: Sprawling prickly pear, Brown-spined prickly pear, New Mexico prickly pear, Purple-fruited prickly pear, Tulip prickly pear, Purple-fruit Prickly Pear, Brownspine Prickly Pear, New Mexico Prickly-pear, Brownspine Pricklypear, Tulip Pricklypear, Brown-spined Pricklypear
SPANISH (Español): Nopal Pardo
Description: Brownspine or Purple-fruit Prickly Pear (Opuntia phaeacantha) is a complex of several medium-sized, brown-spinal prickly pear varieties. Plants may be erect or prostrate 60-90 cm tall, occasionally even taller, with no trunk and forms dense thickets up to 2.4 metres across or, it may remain a low, prostrate plant with most of the stem segments (pads) resting their edges on the ground, never growing taller than 40 cm tall. These are recognized by their weak stems and pads that sag or lie on the ground, especially during the winter months. Flowers are golden yellow with a yellow to reddish centre. Among the most common cacti in North America, Opuntia phaeacantha is the very embodiment of what most folks think of when they think of a prickly pear cactus. There are many forms with only a few spines.
Stems: Decumbent to commonly trailing to 30-100 cm long. Pads (segments) widely variable not disarticulating. Most of them flattened, usually longer than broad, and rather thick, obovate to elliptic, 10-25 cm long and 9-18 cm wide ow tuberculate, glabrous, but others are egg shaped or club shaped, 10-18 cm long and 7-20 cm wide, bluish green when young, becoming yellowish green, greyish green to dark green, with age sometimes reddish during stress.
Areoles:3-6 mm, 1-2.5 cm apart, oval to elliptic, with 5-7 per diagonal row on midstem segments, with tan to brown wool, ageing to grey.
Spines: (0-)2-8 per areole, mostly on upper fourth of stem or absent straight, curved, or spirally twisted . The clusters of one to four spines on the sides of the pads are mostly bent downward, while those on the edge of the pads are longer and straighter.
Central spines: 0-3, subulate, usually flattened near base, twisted, deflexed, 3-8 cm long., whitish to tan to brown, red-dish brown at bases.
Radial spines: 2 slender, acicular, shorter, to 20 mm long, off white to yellowish.
Glochids: Yellowish or yellow-brown, dense tuft, to 3(-5) mm long.
Flowers: Particularly attractive, bright yellow, yellow often with pale red to maroon throats and red central stripes on the tepals, 5-7 cm in diameter. Inner tepals yellow with red basal portions (rarely entirely pink to red), 30-40 mm long. Filaments greenish basally, cream coloured or white distally. Anthers yellow. Style white, cream to pinkish. Stigma yellowish, pale or dark green.
Fruits (Tunas): Wine red to purple when ripe with greenish flesh (sometimes reddish and more or less juicy), obovate to barrel-shaped, 3-5 cm long, 2-3 cm in diameter, with 18-24 spineless areoles.
Seeds: Tan, nearly round, notched seeds, 4-5 mm across, evidently notched, warped.
Chromosome number: 2n = 66.
Natural hybrids: O. phaeacantha is a variable plant that hybridizes readily with Opuntia engelmannii, yielding several named and unnamed hybrids, including Opuntia wootonii Griffiths. O. phaeacantha also hybridizes with Opuntia aureispina (forming Opuntia x spinosibacca), Opuntia ficus-indica, and Opuntia littoralis (forming Opuntia x vaseyi), and members of the Opuntia polyacantha complex.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Opuntia phaeacantha group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Brian Loflin, Shirley Loflin “Texas Cacti: A Field Guide” Texas A&M University Press, 26/Oct/2009
2) Terry, M., Heil, K., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. & Corral-Díaz, R. 2017. Opuntia phaeacantha (amended version of 2013 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T152851A121613191. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T152851A121613191.en. Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
3) Roland H. Wauer, Carl M. Fleming “Naturalist's Big Bend: An Introduction to the Trees and Shrubs, Wildflowers, Cacti, Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, Fish, and Insects” Texas A&M University Press, 2002
4) Campell Loughmiller, Lynn Loughmiller, Joe Marcus “Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide” University of Texas Press, 1 February 2018
5) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
6) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006Jackie M. Poole, William R. Carr, Dana
7) Lyman David Benson “The Cacti of the United States and Canada” Stanford University Press, 1982
8) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose: “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Vol I, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1919
Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
9) Curt Backeberg: "Die Cactaceae: Handbuch der Kakteenkunde". 2 Auflage. Band I, Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart New York 1982
10) Hernández, H.M., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. and Goettsch, B. “Checklist of Chihuahuan Desert Cactaceae.” Harvard Papers in Botany 9(1): 51-68., 2004
11) IUCN. “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org.
12) Zimmermann, H.G., M. Pérez-SandyCuen, J. Goluvob, J. Soberón & J. Sarukhán. “Cactoblastis cactorum, una nueva plaga de muy alto riesgo para las Opuntias de México.” Biodiversitas 33(1-6). 2000.
13) Flora of North America Editorial Committee, e. “Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae” FNA Vol. 4 Page 139 . In Fl. N. Amer.. Oxford University Press, New York. 2003. web: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242415204
Cultivation and Propagation: Opuntia phaeacantha is used a fodder.
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