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Opuntia littoralis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CactaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

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

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 littoralis (Engelm.) Cockerell
Habit: Shrub. Stem: <= 1.5 m, clumps < 9 m diam; branches spreading to sprawling; segments 15--22 cm, oblong-elliptic to narrowly obovate, gray-green, glabrous. Spines: 4--11 in all areoles, longest 2--4 cm, generally round, generally straight, distal spreading, proximal +- reflexed, yellow, generally coated +- white, base yellow (brown). Flower: inner perianth yellow to dull red; filaments orange-yellow; style pink or red, stigma yellow-green to green. Fruit: 3.5--5 cm, juicy, dark red-purple throughout; areoles 22--36. Seed: 3--4.5 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=66.
Ecology: Coastal-sage scrub, chaparral; Elevation: 8--400 m. Bioregional Distribution: SCo, ChI, s PR; Distribution Outside California: Mexico. Flowering Time: Apr--Jun Note: Highly variable. Hybridizes with other species of same chromosome number.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt
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Citation for this treatment: Bruce D. Parfitt 2016. Opuntia littoralis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 02, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 02, 2016.

Opuntia littoralis
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© 2014 Barry Rice
Opuntia littoralis
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© 2006 Steve Matson
Opuntia littoralis
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Opuntia littoralis
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© 2010 Gary A. Monroe
Opuntia littoralis
click for enlargement
© 2010 Gary A. Monroe
Opuntia littoralis
click for enlargement
© 2006 Steve Matson

More photos of Opuntia littoralis in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Opuntia littoralis:
SCo, ChI, s PR;
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
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.