Key to Species

Tubercles elongated, 2 to 3 times as long as wide.

Fruit long-spiny, strongly tuberculate 16. O. acanthocarpa

Fruit short-spiny, little tuberculate 17. O. parryi

Tubercles short, less than twice as long as wide.

Spines with white or straw-colored sheaths 18. O. echinocarpa

Spines with yellow-brown sheaths 19. O. serpentina

16. Opuntia acanthocarpa Engelmann and Bigelow, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 308. 1856.

Much branched, 1.5 to 2 meters high; branches becoming woody, alternate, making a narrow angle with the trunk; terminal joints 4 to 8 cm. long, strongly tuberculate; tubercles elongated, flattened laterally; spines 8 to 25, acicular, dark brown, covered with thin and lighter colored sheaths,

2 to 3 cm. long; glochids numerous, yellow; flowers large, red to yellow, 5 cm. long, and when fully open nearly as broad; ovary rather short, turbinate, with few prominent tubercles; fruit dry, about

3 cm. long, naked below, tuberculate above, each tubercle crowned by a cluster of 10 to 12 stout spines; umbilicus broad and somewhat depressed; seeds 5 to 6 cm. broad, sharply angular.

Type locality: On the mountains of Cactus Pass, Arizona, about 500 miles west of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Distribution: Arizona and California; reported also from Utah, Nevada, and Sonora.

Illustrations: N. Amer. Fauna 7: pl. 7, 8; Pac. R. Rep. 4: pl. 18, f. 1 to 3; pl. 24, f. 11.

Figure 67 is from a photograph by Dr. MacDougal of a plant near Pictured Rocks, Tucson Mountains, Arizona.

17. Opuntia parryi Engelmann, Amer. Journ. Sci. II. 14: 339. 1852.

Opuntia bernardina Engelmann in Parish, Bull. Torr. Club 19: 92. 1892.

Low and bush-like, 2 to 4 dm. high; joints cylindric, 7 to 30 cm. long by 1.5 to 2 cm. in diameter, strongly tuberculate; tubercles 1 to 1.5 cm. long; areoles rather large, bearing light-brown wool, yellow glochids, and spines; spines about 10, dark brown, the longer ones 3 cm. long, covered with loose sheaths; flowers, several near together at ends of branches, 4 cm. long; sepals greenish or dull red; petals yellow, obtuse; stigma-lobes cream-colored; ovary tuberculate; fruit dry, ovoid, 2 cm. long, strongly umbilicate, when mature and fertile plump, otherwise more or less tuberculate; areoles on the fruit large, filled with wool and glochids, those at top of fruit often with short spines; seeds white, 4 to 6 mm. broad, beaked, the margins channeled.

Type locality: Near San Felipe, eastern slope of California Mountains-San Jacinto Mountains.

Distribution: Interior valleys of southern California.

This is common, in some of the interior valleys of southern California, although its range has not been very definitely determined. It was first collected by Dr. C. C. Parry in 185 I and named for him by Dr. Engelmann in 1852; but when the latter again took up this name a few years later, he associated it with a very different species, which most later writers and dealers accepted as the true Opuntia parryi. Later on Dr. Engelmann segregated a species which he named O. bernardina, including therein Parry's specimen, but this was not published until after his death. We therefore regard O. bernardina as a synonym of O. parry, while the O. parryi of most collections becomes O. parishii. We are under obligation to Mr. C. R. Orcutt for first calling our attention to this confusion.

Mr. Orcutt thinks that this species is near O. serpentina; but the former has larger flowers, different spines, much less spiny fruit, and is of different habit.

Opuntia bernardina cristata Schumann (Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 12: 20. 1902), an abnormal form, has been described.

Plate vii, figure 3, is from a plant collected by W. T. Schaller at Pala, California, showing a leafy joint.

18. Opuntia echinocarpa Engelmann and Bigelow, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 305. 1856.

Opuntia echinocarpa major Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 305. 1856.

Opuntia echinocarpa nuda Coulter, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 3: 446. 1896.

Opuntia echinocarpaparkeri Coulter, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 3: 446. 1896.

Opuntia echinocarpa robustior Coulter, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 3: 446. 1896.

Opuntia deserta Griffiths, Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 23: 132. 1913.

Plant usually low, but sometimes 1.5 meters high, much branched and widely spreading, with a short woody trunk 2 to 3 cm. in diameter, in age with nearly smooth bark; joints short, turgid, strongly tuberculate; spines numerous, when young bright yellow, when older brownish, or in age grayish, unequally covered with thin papery sheaths; flowers yellowish, but the sepals often tipped with red; ovary short, turbinate, densely spiny especially in the upper part; fruit dry, very spiny; seeds somewhat angular, 4 mm. broad.

Type locality: In the Colorado Valley near the mouth of Bill Williams River.

Distribution: Nevada, Utah, Arizona, California, and Lower California.

Coulter has described three varieties of this species, none of which is quite typical, but without seeing more specimens we can only refer them all to the species proper. His variety parkeri seems more like a very spiny form of O. parryi. O. parkeri Engelmann (Coulter, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 3: 446. 1896) was published as a synonym.

Mrs. Brandegee thought Opuntia echinocarpa nuda very near O. alcahes, if not identical with it (Erythea 5: 122).

Illustrations: Pac. R. Rep. 4: pl. 18, f. 5 to 10; pl. 24, f. 8; Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 23: 132, the last as Opuntia deserta.

Plate vii, figure 4, is from a plant collected by Dr. Rose near the Salton Sink, California, showing a flowering joint.

19. Opuntia serpentina Engelmann, Amer. Journ. Sci. II. 14: 338. 1852.

Cereus californicus Torrey and Gray, Fl. N. Amer. 1: 555. 1840. Not Opuntia californica Engelmann.


Opuntia californica Coville, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 13: 119. 1899.

Ascending, erect, or prostrate; branches slender, 2 to 2.5 cm. in diameter, bluish green, strongly tuberculate; leaves minute; tubercles elevated, 1 to 1.5 cm. long, longer than broad, flattened; spines 7 to 20, brown, covered with yellowish-brown papery sheaths about 1 cm. long; glochids light brown; flowers close together at the top of short branches, about 4 cm. broad, greenish yellow, the outer petals tinged with red; ovary strongly tuberculate, spiny, with a depressed umbilicus; fruit dry, very spiny.

Type locality: Near the seacoast about San Diego, California.

Distribution: Southern California and northern Lower California.

Cactus californicus Nuttall, although given in the Index Kewensis (1 : 367), was never published by Nuttall, although he did have the name in manuscript, as stated in Torrey and Gray's "Flora" in the place cited above, where it was taken up as a Cereus.

Figure 68 is from a plant collected by Mr. G. Sykes near San Diego, California.


We recognize two species in this series, natives of the southwestern United States and Lower California. They are low, bushy plants, with short definite trunks densely covered with short, stout, very spiny branches, the spines white, straw-colored, or yellow, the tubercles, at least those of young shoots, little if any longer than broad, and considerably elevated. Their fruits are fleshy berries.

Key to Species.

Larger spines numerous; upper tubercles on fruit larger than lower ones 20. O. bigelovii

Larger spines 4 to 6; tubercles on fruit all alike

20. Opuntia bigelovii Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 307. 1856.

Usually with a central, erect trunk, 1 meter high or less, with short lateral branches, the upper ones erect; joints usually 5 to 15 cm. long, very turgid, with closely set areoles and almost impenetrable armament; tubercles slightly elevated, pale green, somewhat 4-sided, about as long as broad, 1 cm. broad or less; spines, as well as their papery sheaths, pale yellow; flowers several, borne at the tips of the branches, 4 cm. long including the ovary; sepals orbicular, about 1 cm. in diameter, tinged with red; petals about 1.5 cm. long, pale magenta to crimson; ovary 2 cm. long, its large areoles bearing brown wool and several acicular spines; fruit usually naked, strongly tuberculate, the upper tubercles larger than the lower.

Fig. 68.—Opuntia serpentina. X0.66

Type locality: Bill Williams River, Arizona.

Distribution: Southern Nevada, Arizona, California, northern Sonora, and northern Lower California.

Illustrations: Ann. Rep. Bur. Amer. Ethn. 26: pl. 12; Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 16: pl. 128, b; Hornaday, Camp-fires on Desert and Lava, facing p. 154 Journ. N. Y. Bot. Gard. 5: f. 16; Pac. R. Rep. 4: pl. 19; Plant World 1110: f. 10.

Figure 69 is from a photograph by Dr. MacDougal of a plant in Pima Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona; figure 70 is copied from the Pacific Railroad Report above cited.

21. Opuntia ciribe Engelmann in Coulter, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 3: 445. 1896.

One meter high or less, with numerous stout branches densely armed; ultimate joints 4 to 5 cm. in diameter, strongly and regularly tuberculate, 3 cm. in diameter; tubercles about as long as

Fig. 69.—Opuntia bigelovii.
Fig. 70.—Opuntia bigelovii. X0.66.

broad (5 to 7 cm. broad); larger spines 4 to 6, stout, 2 to 3 cm. long, covered with loose yellow sheaths, accompanied by several bristle-like spines or hairs; glochids numerous; flowers yellow; ovary somewhat bristly; fruit strongly tuberculate, 3 to 4 cm. long, spineless.

Type locality: Comondu and Loreto northward to beyond Rosario, Lower California.

Distribution: Central Lower California.

Opuntia ciribe is near O. bigelovii, but differs from it in having less spiny stems and globular, slightly different fruits.

Figure 71 is from a photograph of a plant collected by Dr. Rose at the head of Concepción Bay, Lower California; figure 72 is from a drawing of a joint from the same plant.

Fig. 71.—Opuntia ciribe. Fig. 72.—Opuntia ciribe. X0.8.


The typical species are tall, much branched, very spiny. The terminal joints are fleshy and strongly tuberculate, the tubercles large and flattened laterally. The fruit is either smooth or strongly tuberculate. We recognize 8 species, natives of Mexico and southwestern United States.

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