Tribe 1 Pereskieae
Stems and foliage as in other dicotyledonous plants; inflorescence in some species compound; flowers more or less stalked, their parts all distinct; glochids wanting; ovule with short funicle; testa of seed thin, brittle.
The genus Pereskia, the only representative of this tribe, is, on account of its similarity to other woody flowering plants, considered the nearest cactus relative to the other families, but this relationship is in all cases remote.
The nearest generic relatives of Pereskia in the cactus family are doubtless the following:
Pereskiopsis, some of whose species were first assigned to the genus Pereskia, but they have different foliage and the areoles often bear glochids.
Opuntia, whose species have leaves, though much reduced and usually caducous, otherwise very different; but some of the species of Opuntia were first referred to Pereskia.
Maihuenia (two of whose species have only recently been taken out of Pereskia), whose seeds are similar but the areoles lack glochids, otherwise very different.
This tribe has a wide geographic distribution, but is found wild only in the tropics.
1. PERESKIA (Plumier) Miller, Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4. 1754.
Leafy trees, shrubs, or sometimes clambering vines, branching and resembling other woody plants; spines in pairs or in clusters in the axils of the leaves, neither sheathed nor barbed; glochids (found only in the Opuntieae) wanting; leaves alternate, broad, flat, deciduous, or somewhat fleshy; flowers solitary, corymbose, or in panicles, terminal or axillary, wheel-shaped; stamens numerous; style single; stigma-lobes linear; seeds black, glossy, with a brittle shell, the embryo strongly curved; the cotyledons leafy; seedlings without spines.
Type species: Cactus pereskia Linnaeus.
In 1898 about 25 names had been proposed in Pereskia, but, in his monograph published that year, Karl Schumann accepted only 11 species. Several new ones have been proposed since the publication of Schumann's monograph.
The species are native in Mexico, the West Indies, Central America, and South America. Some of the species are much used as stocks for growing the various forms of Zygocactus, Epiphyllum, and other cacti requiring this treatment; P. pereskia is most used and P. grandifolia next. Several species are widely cultivated as ornamentals in tropical regions; they do not flower freely under glass in northern latitudes. All species studied by us in the living state grow readily from cuttings.
The typical species seems to have been first introduced into Europe from the West Indies in the latter part of the sixteenth century. A straight-spined species was first described and figured by L. Plukenet in 1696, who called it a portulaca, and the next year by Commerson as an apple (Malus). In 1703 C. Plumier described the genus Pereskia, basing it upon a single species. The genus was repeatedly recognized by Linnaeus in his earlier publications, and by some pre-Linnaean botanists, but in 1753 Linnaeus merged it into Cactus along with a number of other old and well-established genera; but it was retained by Philip Miller in 1754 in the fourth edition (abridged) of his Gardeners' Dictionary and has since been generally recognized as a genus by botanical and horticultural authors.
The name is variously spelled Peirescia, Peireskia, Perescia, and Pereskia.
Named for Nicolas Claude Fabry de Peiresc (1580-1637).
Continue reading here: Key to Species
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