Opuntia caribaea sp nov

Stems i to 3 meters high, forming thickets in open woods and waste grounds; ultimate joints horizontal, 5 to i0 cm. long, much thicker than in O. leptocaulis, with short, elevated tubercles; areoles large, bearing white wool and a few long caducous hairs; spines i to 3, porrect, acicular, 2 to 3 cm. long covered with thin, brown, papery sheaths; glochids dark brown; leaves small, i to 2 mm. long, acute; flowers not known; fruit red, 1.5 to 2 cm. long, usually naked but sometimes bearing short spines from the upper areoles, so far as known always sterile.

Very common on the cactus plain about Azua and also near Barahona, Santo Domingo; collected near Azua, March 1913, by Rose, Fitch, and Russell (No. 3837, type); also by Paul Bartsch in Haiti, 1917; also on the northern coast of Venezuela, and on Margarita Island, and apparently in Trinidad, as indicated by a colored drawing in the Kew herbarium received in 1825 from David Lockhart.

The plant grows in great abundance in Santo Domingo with other cacti, and certainly appears to be indigenous. Its nearest relative is O. leptocaulis, from which it differs in its greater size, thicker joints, and larger fruit.

Figure 58 represents a joint of a plant collected by Rose, Fitch, and Russell at Azua, Santo Domingo, in 1913; figure 59 is from a photograph of the type plant taken by Paul G. Russell.

6. Opuntia arbuscula Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 309. 1856.

Opuntia neoarbuscula Griffiths, Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 19: 260. 1908.

Forming a bush 2 to 3 meters high, often with a rounded, very compact top with numerous short branches; trunk short, 10 to 12 cm. in diameter, with several woody branches; ultimate joints 5 to 7.5 cm. long, 8 mm. in diameter, with low, indistinct tubercles; leaves small; spines usually 1, but sometimes several, especially on old joints, porrect, up to 4 cm. long, covered with loose straw-colored sheaths; flowers greenish yellow tinged with red, 3.5 cm. long; fruit often proliferous, sometimes only one-seeded.

Fig. 60.—Opuntia arbuscula.

Type locality: On the lower Gila near Maricopa village. Distribution: Arizona and Sonora.

Opuntia congesta Griffiths (Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 20: 88, pl. 2, f. 4, 7; pl. 8; pl. 13, f. 5. 1909), from the description, is near this species and probably a race of it.

Races of the species differ in size, in armament, in the length of the tubercles, and in size and shape of the fruit.

Illustrations: Ariz. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 67: pl. 6, f. 2; Bull. Torr. Club 32: pl. 9, f. 3; Plant World 1110: f. 11; Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 19: pl. 22; 19: pl. 23, in part, this last as Opuntia neoarbuscula; Carnegie Inst. Wash. 269: pi. 11, f. 95.

Plate vi, figure 5, represents a flowering branch from Professor J. W. Toumey's collection at Tucson, Arizona. Figure 60 is from a photograph taken by Dr. MacDougal near Tucson, Arizona, in 1906; figure 61 is from a photograph taken by George B. Sudworth in Santa Rita Mountains, Arizona; figure 62 shows a fruiting branch from the same collection.

Krieger del. 2, 5

Krieger del. 2, 5

1. Leafy branch of Opuntia kleiniae.

2. Terminal branch of Opuntia vivipara.

4. Flowering branch of Opuntia echinocarpa.

5. Fruiting branch of Opuntia versicolor.

3. Branch of Opuntia parryi.

(All natural size.)

7. Opuntia kleiniae De Candolle, Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris 17: 118. 1828.

Opuntia wrightii Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 308. 1856.

Opuntia caerulescens Griffiths, Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 20: 86. 1909.

Stems pale, glaucous, sometimes 2-5 meters tall, woody at base; tubercles long; areoles large, a little longer than wide, filled with white wool from the very first; spines usually 1, but sometimes more, from the base of the areole, covered with yellow sheaths, on old joints accompanied by several bristle-like spines from the lower margin of the areole; glochids yellow to brown; leaves linear, 15 cm. long, acute; flowers 3 cm. long, purplish; petals broad, rounded at apex; fruit red, 2 to 2.5 cm. long, long persisting; seeds 4 to 5 mm. broad.

Fig. 61 .—Opuntia arbuscula. Fig. 62.—Opuntia arbuscula. X0.75.

Type locality: In Mexico.

Distribution: Texas to central Mexico.

Opuntia kleiniae was originally described as without tubercles on the stems, which has raised the question whether the plant bearing this name is properly referred; in this respect O. arbuscula answers the description better, but it is very doubtful whether O. arbuscula could have been known at that time.

Opuntia kleiniae has long been in cultivation and is to be seen in most collections.

In 1910 Dr. Rose collected near Alamos, Mexico, an Opuntia very similar in habit and joints to O. kleiniae, but much more spiny.

Opuntia kleiniae cristata (Cat. Darrah Succ. Manchester 55. 1908) is a garden form. O. kleiniae laetevirens Salm-Dyck (Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 73. 1850) is only a name.

Illustrations: Abh. Bayer. Akad. Wiss. München 2: pl. 1, sec. 7, f. 9; Rep. Mo. Bot. Gard. 19: pl. 21, in part; 20: pl. 6, in part, this last as Opuntia caerulescens.

Plate vi, figure 6, represents a flowering branch of a specimen obtained from M. Simon, of St. Ouen, Paris, France, in 1901; plate vii, figure 1, represents a leafy branch of a specimen collected by Dr. Rose at Ixmiquilpan, Mexico, in 1905.

Two remarkable opuntias were collected in Lower California by Dr. Rose in 1911, but as they were not in flower or fruit, and have not developed flowers since they were brought into cultivation, we are unable to describe them fully; they are doubtless of this relationship and their characters are given as follows:

Opuntia sp.

Stems 1.3 to 2 meters high, rather weak, often clambering over bushes, 10 mm. in diameter, woody below, pale, when dry the white epidermis peeling off; lateral branches numerous, horizontal, short (2 to 6 cm. long); areoles on old stems bearing 3 or 4 long (2 to 4 cm. long) needle-like brownish spines; young areoles usually with a single spine each, filled with brown wool; glochids brown, numerous sheaths on young spines straw-colored, soon deciduous; flowers and fruit unknown.

Description based on field notes and on living and herbarium specimens.

Collected by Dr. Rose on Santa Cruz Island, Gulf of California, April 1, 1911 (No. 1 6845).

Opuntia sp.

Procumbent, forming an indeterminable mass of spiny branches, 3 to i0 dm. in diameter; old stems woody, smooth, brown, and shiny, 2 cm. in diameter; branches i0 to 20 cm. long, bluish green; spines of two kinds; the 2 to 4 principal ones long (2 to 3 cm. long), needle-like, at first covered with thin yellow sheaths, straw-colored when young, becoming purplish, finally fading to gray; secondary spines 4 to 6, radial, inconspicuous; glochids brownish; flowers and fruit unknown.

Description based on field notes and living and herbarium specimens.

Collected by Dr. J. N. Rose on East San Benito Island, off the coast of Lower California, March 9, 1911 (No. 16085). This is, doubtless, the plant referred to by Walton (Cact. Journ. 2: 137. 1899) as O. ramosissima, but it is not that species.


Bushy, arborescent, or depressed species, with slender joints, the ultimate ones tuberculate, about 2 cm. thick or less, the areoles bearing several spines. We recognize 8 species, 7 of them natives of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, and 1 in Lower California.

Continue reading here: Key to Species

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