Maihuenia patagonica Philippi

Opuntia patagonica Philippi, Linnaea 33: 82. 1864.

Pereskia philippii Weber, Dict. Hort. Bois 939. 1 898.

Maihuenia philippii Weber in Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen 757. 1898.

Low, much branched, and dense, resembling Semper-vivum tomentosum in habit; joints subglobose, 1 to 1.5 cm. in diameter; leaves subulate, green; young areoles bearing white hairs; spines weak, hardly pungent, white, the longest 10 to 15 mm. long; flowers 2.8 to 3 cm. long; fruit 8 to 10 mm. long, thicker than long; leaves on the ovary ovate to lanceolate, fleshy, naked in their axils, except some of the upper ones; seeds round, 3 to 4 mm. in diameter.

Type locality: In southern Argentina.

Distribution: Near snow-line on southern mountain ranges of Argentina and Chile.

Opuntia philippii Haage and Schmidt, without description, is given by Weber (Dict. Hort. Bois 939. 1898) as a synonym of this species.

This is called by the natives espina blanca.

2. Maihuenia poeppigii (Otto) Weber in

Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen 755.


Opuntia poeppigii Otto in Pfeiffer, Enum. Cact. 174. 1837.

Opuntia maihuen Remy in Gay, Fl. Chilena 3: 29. 1847.

Pereskia poeppigii Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 252. 1850.

Shrubby, much branched, prostrate, forming dense cespitose masses 1 meter broad; joints spiny to the bases, cylindric, 6 cm. long or more, 1.5 cm. in diameter; leaves cylindric, green, 4 to 6 mm. long; spines 3 from each areole, the 2 laterals very short, the central one 1.5 to 2 cm. long; flowers terminal, yellow; fruit oblong to obovoid, about 5 cm. long and 3 cm. thick.

Type locality: In Chile, without definite locality.

Distribution: High mountains of Chile.

Illustrations: Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen f. 108, B, c.; Gartenflora 32: pl. 1129, f. 1 to 4, as Opuntia poeppigii; Dict. Gard. Nicholson 3: f. 82, as Pereskia poeppigii.

Figure 51 is from a fruit obtained by Dr. Rose at the National Museum of Chile, Santiago, in 1914. „

0 j Fig. 53.—Maihuenia tehuelches

3. Maihuenia brachydelphys Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen 756. 1898.

Cespitose, prostrate; joints cylindric or nearly ellipsoid, naked below, 2 cm. long; spines 2 or 3, one much stouter and longer, yellow except at base and there brown; leaves terete, 2 to 3 mm. long; areoles circular, full of white wool; flowers usually from the tips of joints, red, 3.5 cm. long.

Type locality: Pasco Cruz, Argentina, 34° south latitude, province of Mendoza.

Distribution: Western Argentina.

Opuntia brachydelphys Schumann is mentioned by Kuntze (Rev. Gen. Pl. 32: 107. 1898) by name only.

Illustration: Schumann, Gesamtb. Kakteen f. 108, A.

Figure 52 is copied from Schumann's illustration above cited.

4. Maihuenia valentinii Spegazzini, Anal. Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires II. 4: 289. 1902.

Shrubby, 1 to 2.5 dm. high, dull green; joints cylindric, somewhat clavate, 1 to 3.5 cm. long; leaves ovate, small; spines , the central much larger, 2 to 6 cm. long; flowers from near the ends of the branches, 2 cm. broad, the sepals reddish, the petals white to light yellow; stamens indefinite; filaments white; style 6 mm. long, white, longer than the stamens; stigma-lobes 5, short, 2 mm. long, purplish; ovary globular to obconic, 5 to 8 mm. long, bearing numerous triangular fleshy leaves with long white hairs and sometimes 1 or 2 spines in their axils; fruit unknown.

Type locality: Near Trelew, Chubut, Argentina.

Distribution: Territory of Chubut, southern Argentina.

Related to M. tehuelches and M. poeppigii, but said to be very distinct.

Figure 50 is from a photograph furnished by Dr. Carlos Spegazzini.

5. Maihuenia tehuelches Spegazzini, Anal. Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires II. 4: 288. 1902.

Shrubby, 2 to 3 dm. high, with many intricate branches, dull green; joints cylindric, ellipsoid to somewhat clavate, 2 to 8 cm. long by 10 to 12 cm. in diameter; leaves ovate, small, 2 to 4 mm. long; spines 3, the central one erect, 2 to 4 cm. long, the 2 lateral ones only 5 to 10 mm. long; flowers at the apex of the branches, 35 to 45 mm. broad, white to yellowish white; fruit globose, naked, dry, 2 cm. in diameter; seeds black, 3 mm. broad.

Type locality: Between San Julián and Rio Deseado, Argentina.

Distribution: Dry, rocky deserts, southwestern Argentina.

Figure 53 is from a photograph furnished by Dr. Carlos Spegazzini.

6. OPUNTIA (Tournefort) Miller, Gard. Dict. Abridg. ed. 4. 1754.

Cactodendron Bigelow, Pac. R. Rep. 3: 102; 4: 7, 11, iii. 1856.

Consolea Lemaire, Rev. Hort. 1862: 174. 1862.

Tephrocactus Lemaire, Cact. 88. 1868.

Ficindica St. Lager, Ann. Soc. Bot. Lyon 7: 70. 1880.

Cacti, sometimes with definite trunks, or more often much branched from the base, the branches often spreading, reclining, or prostrate, sometimes clambering, but never climbing (one species known with annual stems); roots fibrous or rarely tuberous and large and fleshy; ultimate branches (joints or, pads) cylindric to globose or flattened, usually very fleshy, sometimes woody; areoles axillary, bearing spines, barbed bristles (glochids), hairs, flowers, and sometimes glands; leaves usually small, terete, mostly early deciduous; spines solitary or in clusters, terete or flattened, naked or sheathed, variously colored; glochids usually numerous, borne above the spines; flowers usually one at an areole; ovary inferior, one-celled, many-ovuled, bearing leaves, the areoles often with spines and glochids; sepals green or more or less colored, usually grading into the petals; petals usually of various shades and combinations of green, yellow, and red (rarely white), widely spreading; stamens much shorter than the petals, sensitive; style single, thick; stigma-lobes short; fruit a berry, dry or juicy, often edible, spiny or naked, globular, ovoid or ellipsoid; seed covered by a hard, bony aril, white, flattened; embryo curved; cotyledons 2, large.

The species grow naturally from Massachusetts to British Columbia south to the Strait of Magellan. Several have been naturalized and have become very abundant locally in the Old World and in Australia.

The type species is Cactus opuntia Linnaeus.

Karl Schumann recognized 131 species in his "Gesamtbeschreibung der Kakteen," published during the years 1897 and 1898. Many have been described since this monograph was published.

The name Opuntia was that of a town in Greece, where some cactus-like plant is said to have grown.

The genus is important economically. It furnishes the well-known tuna fruit largely imported into our eastern cities from Italy and which is common in the markets of Mexico. Some species are used for hedges, the branches of others are cooked like spinach, and still others furnish forage for stock.

The species are numerous and very diverse, and have at various times been grouped by authors into several genera, while other species, now referred by us to Nopalea, Maihuenia, and Pereskiopsis, were included in Opuntia.

The following genera now referred to Opuntia have been regarded as distinct from it:

Consolea was described by Lemaire in 1862. He described five species, of which C. rubescens is the first and therefore the type. This group is a striking one, characterized by a pronounced cylindric trunk in old plants, with an unjointed central woody axis, peculiar semaphore-like branches at the top, and very small flowers. There are eight species of this group, described under our series Spinosissimae. They are confined to the West Indies, although C. rubesceus, the spineless race of Opuntia catacantha, was originally described as from Brazil-doubtless erroneously.

Tephrocactus was described by Lemaire in 1868, and to it he referred eight species of Opuntia. T. diadematus is the type species. Schumann included it in Opuntia as a subgenus, with 15 species. They are all South American, chiefly in Argentina and Bolivia.

Ficindica was established by St. Lager in 1880, based on Opuntia ficus-indica, which is clearly congeneric with Opuntia opuntia.

In 1856 the name Cactodendron was proposed in an account of Whipple's Expedition, published in volumes 3 and 4 of the Pacific Railroad Reports. It was apparently not intended to be a formal publication, but as a definite species is indicated, the name is published. It will be of interest to record here the evidence upon which we reach this conclusion:

Cactodendron Bigelow Pac. R. Rep. 3: 102; 4: 7, 11; Additional Notes and Corrections iii. 1856.

"There are * * * Opuntia of many varieties; some with wide leaf-like joints, others of shrubby form and woody fibre, which the botanist proposes to name Cactodendron." Pac. R. Rep. 3: 102.

"Immediately on our entrance into this valley (November 19 [1856]) we found and collected a new species of Opuntia, with prostrate, nearly terete joints, entirely devoid of woody fibre; * * *. Lieutenant Whipple discovered the first specimen of our new Cactodendron, as we were pleased to call it, to distinguish it from the O. arborescensT Pac. R. Rep. 4: 7.

"The arborescent Opuntia, first found near Zuni, which, to distinguish from the true O. arborescens, we called Cacto-dendron, finds its western limits near the termination of this region." Pac. R. Rep. 4: 10.

"15. 'New arboresent Opuntia,' called also 'our new Cactodendron,' pages 7 and 11, is Opuntia whipplei, E. & B., new species." Pac. R. Rep. 4: Additional Notes and Corrections iii.

Opuntias are known under a great variety of names. Among the names for the flat-jointed species, the most common are: prickly pear in the United States; tuna in Mexico; sucker and bullsucker in the Lesser Antilles. For the round-stemmed forms we have: cane cactus, and such Mexican names as cholla and tasajo. Dr. David Griffiths has published a list of names used in Mexico.

The genus Opuntia, as understood by us, is composed of at least 250 species, but more than 900 names are to be found in literature. No type specimens of many of the species were preserved by their authors, some have, apparently, been lost, and some, which are probably preserved, we have been unable to study.

The genus shows a great range in stem structure, varying from cylindric to broad and flat. These extremes suggest different generic types, but these characters can not be used except in the most general way, for some species have both rounded and flattened stems. Some with round stems have flowers which suggest a closer relationship with the species with flattened stems.

The habits of some of the species are very characteristic, while others show a wide range of forms. Many of the erect or tree-like forms, when grown from cuttings, develop bushy habits much unlike their normal shapes.

The spines, while somewhat constant in color in some species, vary considerably in others, and the number of spines is rather inconstant. Species which are normally abundantly spined are sometimes naked when cultivated, while species which are normally naked sometimes develop spines in cultivation; cultivated specimens usually have weaker spines and sometimes decidedly different ones from wild plants.

The flowers often vary greatly in color, as is seen especially in O. versicolor and O. lindheimeri, which show wide ranges of color forms. Some flowers vary in color during the

We group the species known to us into 3 subgenera, 46 series, and with the following characteristics:

Continue reading here: Key to Subgenera and Series of Opuntia

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