BLACK-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, BLUNT-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, LONG-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, MARTIN'S BLUNT-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, PURPLE PRICKLY PEAR, REDDISH PURPLE PRICKLY PEAR Opuntia violacea Engelmann 1848, not validly published; 0. violacea
Engelmann ex B. D. Jackson 1898 Opuntia macrocentra var. minor M. Anthony 1956 Opuntia violacea var. castetteri L. D. Benson 1969 Opuntia violacea var. macrocentra L. D. Benson 1969
Plants spreading shrubs, 0.6-1 m (24-39 in) high, rarely with distinct trunks. Stem segments dull dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10-20 cm (3.9-7.9 in) long. Areoles 2-2.5 cm (0.8-1 in) apart. Glochids tan to reddish brown. Spines 0-4, most commonly 1-3, dark black to reddish brown, with whitish tips, 3-6 cm (1.2-2.4 in) or more long. Flowers often not opening fully, yellow with brilliant red centers, 6-7 cm (2.4-2.8 in) in diameter. Fruits ovoid, with few areoles, purplish red to pinkish red, 2.5-3.5 cm (1-1.4 in) long. Distribution: Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and Sonora, Mexico.
Two varieties of Opuntia macrocentra are recognized. Variety macrocentra has stem segments 15-20 cm (5.9-7.9 in) long that are dull dark green, often with some purple, high areole density, and ripe fruits that are dull deep purplish red; it occurs in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Variety minor has stem segments 10-15 cm (3.9-5.9 in) long that are glaucous blue-green, a lower areole density, and fruits that are bright pinkish red; it occurs in the Big Bend region of Texas and adjacent Mexico.
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