Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Edward F. Anderson (except Opuntia)

Perennial, shrub, tree, generally fleshy
Stem cylindric, spheric, or flat; surface smooth, tubercled, or ribbed (fluted); nodal areoles bear flowers, generally bear spines from center ("central spines") and margin ("radial spines") (Opuntia areoles bear small, barbed, deciduous bristles sometimes called glochids, generally also bear spines)
Leaf generally 0
Flower generally solitary, bisexual, sessile, ± radial; perianth parts generally many, grading from scale-like to petal-like; stamens many; ovary appearing inferior, ± submerged in stem, so generally with areoles on surface, style 1, stigma lobes generally many
Fruit generally fleshy, generally indehiscent, spiny, scaly, or smooth
Seeds many
Genera in family: 93 genera, ± 2000 species: especially Am deserts; many cultivated
Etymology: (Greek: thorny plant)
Reference: [Benson 1982 Cacti of US & Can; Hunt & Taylor eds 1990 Bradleya 8:85–107]



Bruce D. Parfitt and Marc A. Baker

Shrubs, trees; roots fibrous
Stem generally erect, < 12 m; segments flat to cylindric, generally firmly attached; tubercles generally elongate along stem; ribs sometimes present; spines 0–many, sometimes flat, tip smooth or barbed, epidermis persistent or separating as a papery sheath; small, barbed deciduous bristles generally many
Leaf small, conic, fleshy, deciduous, obvious on young stems and ovaries
Fruit juicy, fleshy or dry; wall thick, bearing areoles
Seed dark brown, encased in a bony, whitish aril
Species in genus: 200 species: Am; O. ficus-indica cultivated for food, others for ornamental
Etymology: (Possibly from Papago Indian name ("opun") for this food plant; or named for a spiny plant of Opus, Greece)
Spines smaller, fewer in shade forms; when yellow, blacken with age. Hybridization common within subgenera.


O. basilaris Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow


Stem clumped, ascending to erect, 7–40 cm; segments flat, generally erect, 5–21 cm, generally puberulent; spines generally 0(–8); bristles many
Flower: inner perianth ± 4 cm, pink-magenta; filaments deep magenta-red; style white or pink, stigma white
Fruit 2–4 cm, becoming dry, green and purple becoming tan, generally puberulent; areoles 24–76
Seed 6.5–9 mm, ± spheric
Ecology: Desert, chaparral, pinyon/juniper woodland
Elevation: 120–2200 m.
Bioregional distribution: s Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountain Area, se San Joaquin Valley, San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains (and adjacent South Coast), e Peninsular Ranges, s East of Sierra Nevada, Desert
Distribution outside California: to Utah, Arizona, Mexico


var. brachyclada (Griffiths) Munz


Stem: segment 5–13 cm, 1.5–5 cm wide, slightly flat, ± cylindric to ± club-shaped; spines 0
Chromosomes: 2n=22
Ecology: Chaparral
Elevation: 1200–1800 m.
Bioregional distribution: San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains
Synonyms: O. humistrata Griffiths
Weakly differentiated from var. basilaris. Threatened by collecting.
See the CNPS Inventory for information about endangerment and rarity.
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bioregional map for OPUNTIA%20basilaris%20var.%20brachyclada being generated

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