Opuntia pilifera Weber Dict Hort Bois 894 1898

Becoming 4 to 5 meters high, with a definite, thick, woody, cylindric trunk and a broad, rounded top; joints oblong to orbicular, 1 to 3 dm. long, obtuse at apex, pale green; leaves subulate, about 5 mm. long; areoles 2 to 3 cm. apart, scarcely elevated; spines 2 to 9, white, slightly spreading, acicular; the outer part of the areole filled with nearly white, more or less deciduous hairs 2 to 3 cm. long; flowers large, red; areoles on the ovary bearing brown glochids and deciduous hairs, the latter especially abundant towards the top of the ovary; fruit red, juicy.

Type locality: In Mexico.

Distribution: Puebla, Mexico.

No definite locality was given for this species when it was first described, and apparently no type material was preserved; living specimens identified by Weber are still grown at La Mortola, Italy. The species is common about Tehuacan, Mexico, being one of the large forms occurring in that region. It is common in all large greenhouse collections.

Figure 216 is from a photograph of a plant in the collection of the New York Botanical Garden grown from a cutting brought by Dr. MacDougal and Dr. Rose from Tehuacan, Mexico, in 1906.


Large plants, usually with large, nearly spineless green joints; spines, when present, few, small, white; flowers large, usually orange to yellow. None of the species is definitely known in the wild state, but all doubtless originated from tropical American ancestors, and they may all represent spineless races of plants here included in our series Streptacanthae. Some of them are cultivated for their fruit and others for forage.

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