Opuntia phaeacantha Engelmann 1849

BROWN-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, DENSELY SPINED PRICKLY PEAR, MAJOR PRICKLY PEAR, MOJAVE PRICKLY PEAR, NEW MEXICO PRICKLY PEAR, PURPLE-FRUITED PRICKLY PEAR, YELL0W-SPINED PRICKLY PEAR Opuntia camanchica Engelmann & Bigelow 1856,0. phaeacantha var. camanchica (Engelmann & Bigelow) L. D. Benson 1969

Opuntia mojavensis Engelmann & Bigelow 1856,0. phaeacantha var.

mojavensis (Engelmann & Bigelow) Fosberg 1934 Opuntia angustata Engelmann & Bigelow 1857 Opuntia phaeacantha var. nigricans Engelmann 1865 Opuntia phaeacantha var. major Engelmann 1896 Opuntia superbospina Griffiths 1916,0. phaeacantha var. superbos-

pina (Griffiths) L. D. Benson 1974 Opuntia woodsii Backeberg 1957

Opuntia chariestonensis Clokey 1943,0. phaeacantha var. charlesto-nensis (Clokey) L. D. Benson 1958

Plants shrubby, prostrate to sprawling, often forming large clumps to 90 cm (35 in) high and 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide. Stem segments obovate to nearly round, blue-green, often with purplish tint, 10-40 cm (3.9-16 in) long, 7-24 cm (2.8-9.4 in) wide, 1.2-1.5 cm (0.5-0.6 in) thick. Leaves elongate conical, to 9 mm (0.4 in) long. Areoles elliptical, 2-2.5 cm (0.8-1 in) apart. Glochids brown, reddish tan, or yellowish brown, to 1.2 cm (0.5 in) long. Spines produced from all areoles or restricted to upper portion of segment only, 1-10, rarely absent, reddish brown to dark brown, sometimes lighter, spreading, straight or bent backward, sometimes curved or twisted, awl shaped to flattened, 2.5-8 cm (1-3.1 in) long. Flowers yellow, sometimes red basally, 6-8 cm (2.4-3.1 in) long and in diameter. Fruits obovate, reddish purple to purple, fleshy, smooth, 3.5-8 cm (1.4-3.1 in) long, 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) in diameter. Distribution: occurring widely in the southwestern United States and throughout much of northern Mexico. Stems of Opuntia phaeacantha are used medicinally, and fruits in making face paint (Chapter 2, under Cacti as Medicine, and Cacti as a Source of Dyes). Bravo-Hollis (1978,1: 264) accepted 7 varieties of O. phaeacantha in Mexico, and Benson (1982,469-487) recognized 10 in the United States. There is much work to be done to determine which, if any, should be recognized.

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