Plants treelike. Stem segments broadly obovate, pale green, sometimes glabrous, to 20 cm (7.9 in) long and 16 cm (6.3 in) wide. Areoles numerous, elevated, widely separated. Glochids dark, 2-3 mm long. Spines 3-5, short, sharp, yellow, becoming darker with age, to 1.5 cm (0.6 in) long. Flowers yellow, to 5 cm (2 in) long. Fruits probably red. Distribution: central Mexico.
Opuntia echios J. T. Howell 1933
Opuntiagalapageia var. echios (J. T. Howell) Backeberg 1958 Opuntia echios var.giganteaJJ. Howell 1933 Opuntia zacanaJ. T. Howell 1933,0. galapageia var. zacana (J. T. Howell) Backeberg 1958,0. echios var.zacana (Howell) E. F. Anderson &Walklngton 1970 Opuntia echios var. barringtonensis E. Y. Dawson 1962 Opuntia echios var. inermis E. Y. Dawson 1962 Opuntia echios var. prolifera E. Y. Dawson 1962
Plants variable, mostiy treelike, 1-10 m (3.3-33 ft) high with branches strongly pendent; trunks usually well developed, to 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter, spiny at first, later with reddish
Opuntia echios var. gigantea with Darwin finch; variety barringtonensis illustrated on page 16
platelets. Stem segments round, obovate, or oblong, yellow-green to blue-green, 25-45 cm (9.8-18 in) long, 17-32 cm (6.7-13 in) wide, 1-2.4 cm (0.4-0.9 in) thick. Areoles round, 2-6 mm (to 0.2 in) in diameter, 13-30 cm (0.5-1.2 in) apart. Glochids few or absent. Spines 2-20 or more, strongly dimorphic, often sparse on younger segments, erect, stiff, and sharp on young plants, to bristly and almost hairlike on mature plants, yellow, becoming brown, 1.2-12 cm (0.5-4.7 in) long. Flowers yellow, 8-10 cm (3.1-3.9 in) long, 5-7 cm (22.8 in) in diameter. Fruits top shaped, green to brown, 4-6 cm (1.6-2.4 in) long, 3-3.5 cm (1.2-1.4 in) in diameter, with spines and glochids. Distribution: Galápagos Islands.
Opuntia echios has undergone adaptive radiation, producing distinct varieties on each island or island group; five varieties are recognized. Variety echios occurs on Baltra, Daphne Major, Las Plazas, and neighboring Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Islands; it tends to be only shrubby. Variety barringtonensis is endemic to Santa Fe (Barrington) Island; it is strongly arboreal, reaching 10 m (33 ft) or more in height. Variety gigantea occurs in the vicinity of Academy Bay, Santa Cruz; it also is strongly arboreal and has long, pendent branches. Variety inermis occurs on Isabela (Albemarle) Island; it is treelike, reaching heights of 6 m (20 ft). Variety zacana is shrubby to nearly prostrate, never arboreal; it is found only on Seymour Island.
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