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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Cactaceae | Opuntia

4. Opuntia humifusa (Rafinesque) Rafinesque, Med. Fl. 2: 247. 1830.

Eastern pricklypear

Cactus humifusus Rafinesque, Ann. Nat. 1: 15. 1820

Shrubs, forming clumps or often prostrate, usually only 1 or 2 stem segments tall, to 0.5 m (except in Florida where they may be erect and reach to 2+ m with short trunk), flattened to obovoid, sometimes from tuberlike rootstocks. Stem segments not disarticulating, dark or bright shiny green, wrinkling when stressed, circular to broadly oblong to obovate, 5-17.5 × 4-12 cm, fleshy, usually tuberculate, glabrous; areoles 4-6 per diagonal row across midstem segment, oval to circular, 2-4 mm diam., not raised, sometimes somewhat sunken; wool tan to brown. Spines often absent or 1-2(-3) per areole, spreading, whitish to brownish, terete, straight, and usually stout, 25-60 mm; occasionally also 1 deflexed spine present. Glochids in dense crescent of adaxial edge of areole and in dense tuft overtopping crescent in age, yellow to red-brown, to 4 mm. Flowers: inner tepals pale to bright yellow throughout, 20-30 mm diam.; filaments yellow to orange; anthers pale yellow to cream; style and stigma lobes white. Fruits greenish, tardily becoming apricot to brownish red, elongate, 30-50 × 12-20 mm, fleshy, tapering at base; pulp green and sour, becoming reddish and sweet under ideal conditions; areoles 10-18. Seeds tan, 3.5-4.5 mm diam., thickish; girdle protruding to 1 mm.

Varieties 2 (2 in the flora): United States.

1 Shrubs forming clumps, often prostrate, usually only 1 or 2 stem segments tall, to 0.5 m   4a var. humifusa
+ Shrubs or small trees, erect, to 2 m   4b var. ammophilia


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