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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 Indian 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.

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.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
Jepson Online Interchange
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Next taxon: Opuntia leucotricha

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Citation for this treatment: Bruce D. Parfitt 2016. Opuntia fragilis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_IJM.pl?tid=35244, accessed on July 23, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/IJM.html, accessed on July 23, 2016.


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
© 2016 Keir Morse
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.);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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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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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.