Opuntia tessellata Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. 3: 309. 1856.
Frutescent, bushy, sometimes 2 meters high, the branches gray, often widely spreading, and 9 cm. long; tubercles low, slightly convex, 4-angled to 6-angled, giving the surface an appearance of being covered with diamond-shaped plates; leaves ovoid, i to 3 mm. long, acute; areoles on young shoots circular, with white or tawny wool and pale glochids, the upper part in age compressed into the narrow slit between the two -adjoining tubercles, the lower part depressed-linear, with a slightly elevated border; spines often wanting, but when present abundant, usually one at each areole, rarely 2, porrect, acicular, sometimes 6 cm. long, usually reddish when young, covered by loose, yellow, papery sheaths; flowers, including ovaries, 3 to 4 cm. long; sepals subulate, similar to the leaves of the ovary, but longer; petals greenish yellow, tinged with red, obovate, aristulate, about i cm. long; stamens greenish yellow; anthers orange-colored; style and stigma-lobes cream-colored; ovary narrowly obconic, covered with emarginate tubercles, the areoles bearing wool and long glochids, but no spines; fruit dry, obovate, 2 to 2.5 cm. long, covered with clusters of weak, slender spines, appearing like a bur; seeds few, white, 5 mm. broad.
Type locality: In California, near the Colorado River.
Distribution: Southern Nevada, western
Arizona, southeastern California, northwestern
Sonora and probably northeastern Lower California Figs. 54, 55.—Opuntia ramosissima. X0.75.
The flowers of this species have been described as purple, apparently erroneously.
This species is found in the most arid deserts of the southwestern part of the United States, usually growing on low hills, and is confined chiefly to the lower Colorado; it is here rather inconspicuous and might easily be overlooked. It is one of the least succulent species of the genus, the terminal shoots soon becoming hard, and hence the plant is difficult to propagate from cuttings, and is rarely found in greenhouse collections.
Opuntia tessellata cristata Schumann (Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 8: 70. 1898) is a striking monstrosity which Schumann has described and figured.
Illustrations: Cact. Journ. 1: pl. ; Cycl. Amer. Hort. Bailey 3: f. 1549; Pac. R. Rep. 4: pl. 21; 24, f. 20, all as Opuntia tessellata.
Figure 54 represents a spiny branch drawn from a specimen sent by Mr. S. B. Parish from Barstow, California, in 1915; figure 55 shows a portion of an unarmed branch sent by the same collector from the same locality.
Series 2. LEPTOCAULES.
Bushy species, with slender joints, the ultimate ones 4 to i5 mm. thick, often readily detached; the flowers small.
Inhabitants of the southwestern United States, Mexico, northern South America, and , one species in Santo Domingo.
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