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Vascular Plants of California
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Opuntia fragilis
BRITTLE PRICKLY-PEAR


Higher Taxonomy
Family: CactaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Common Name: CACTUS FAMILY
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree, generally fleshy. Stem: cylindric to spheric, or flat; surface smooth, tubercled, or ribbed (grooved); nodal areoles bearing flowers. Leaf: generally 0 or early-deciduous, flat to +- cylindric. Spines: areoles generally with central, radial spines, occasionally with glochids. Flower: generally 1 per areole, bisexual [unisexual], sessile, radial [bilateral]; perianth parts generally many [5], scale-like to petal-like; stamens many; ovary inferior [superior], style 1, stigma lobes generally several [many]. Fruit: dry to fleshy or juicy, indehiscent to variously dehiscent, spiny, scaly, or naked; tubercled or smooth. Seed: generally many, occasionally 0--few.
Genera In Family: +- 125 genera, +- 1800 species: America (especially deserts), Africa; many cultivated, some edible. Note: Spines smaller, fewer (0) in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Introduced species increasingly escape cultivation. Hybridization common in some genera. Taxa of Escobaria in TJM (1993) moved to Coryphantha.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce D. Parfitt, Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: OpuntiaView DescriptionDichotomous Key


Common Name: PRICKLY-PEAR
Habit: Shrub, tree; roots fibrous [tuberous]. Stem: generally erect, < 6 [12] m; segments generally flat (+- cylindric), generally firmly attached; tubercles 0 to +- developed; ribs 0. Leaf: small, conic, fleshy, deciduous, present on young stems, ovaries. Spines: 0--many per areole, cylindric or flat, tip smooth or barbed, epidermis persistent; glochids generally many. Fruit: juicy, fleshy or dry; wall thick, bearing areoles; spiny or not. Seed: in a bony, +- white aril.
Species In Genus: +- 150 species: America; Opuntia ficus-indica cultivated for food, others for ornamental. Etymology: (Possibly from Papago name ("opun") for this food pl; or for a spiny plant of Opus, Greece) Note: Spines smaller, fewer in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Spineless stems, ovaries, and fruit generally with glochids, these occasionally long, conspicuous; hybridization common. Taxa with cylindric to club-shaped stems moved to Cylindropuntia, Grusonia.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
Opuntia fragilis (Nutt.) Haw.
NATIVE
Habit: Shrub, low. Stem: 6.5 cm; decumbent-sprawling; segments 2--5.5 cm, 2--3 cm wide, generally elliptic-obovate, thickness +- = width, +- tubercled, terminal generally easily detached, green, glabrous. Spines: 3--7 in all areoles, round, longest 3.5 cm, +- rigid, straight, spreading, gray, brown at tip. Flower: inner perianth yellow, base occasionally red; filaments white or red; style white, stigma green. Fruit: +- 1.3 cm, dry, tan; areoles +- 19--21, spines 1--5, 5--7 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=66.
Ecology: Juniper woodland; Elevation: 880 m. Bioregional Distribution: w CaRH (Shasta Valley, Siskiyou Co.); Distribution Outside California: to northern and eastern Canada, east-central United States, Texas. Flowering Time: Apr--Jul Note: Most northern range of any cactus, near Arctic Circle.
Jepson eFlora Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Next taxon: Opuntia leucotricha

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Botanical illustration including Opuntia fragilis

botanical illustration including Opuntia fragilis

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Citation for this treatment: Bruce D. Parfitt 2012, Opuntia fragilis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=35244, accessed on December 13, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/, accessed on December 13, 2019.

Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse
Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2001 John Game
Opuntia fragilis
click for enlargement
© 2016 Keir Morse

More photos of Opuntia fragilis in CalPhotos



Geographic subdivisions for Opuntia fragilis:
w CaRH (Shasta Valley, Siskiyou Co.)
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).





 

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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.