Nathaniel Britton and Joseph Rose described Tacinga (type, T.funalis) in 1919. The origin of the name is a bit unusual: it is an anagram of catinga, also spelled caatinga, the Brazilian name for the thorn bush vegetation in Bahia, from which T. funalis comes. Research by Pierre Braun and Eddie Esteves Pereira (1989-1995), Steven Dickie and Robert Wallace (2001), and Wolfgang Stuppy (2001) has shown that the species of the Opuntia inamoena complex, also Brazilian, belong in Tacinga. Stuppy and Taylor (2001) have revised the genus, and their conclusions are followed here. Tacinga comprises six species, and one naturally occurring hybrid is also included in the treatment here.
Like other opuntioids, Tacinga has glochids, which are easily shed. Its flowers, fruits, and seeds are also similar to those of other members of the subfamily Opuntioideae. The species flower at night or during the day in summer. Tacinga is rare in cultivation.
Tacinga Britton & Rose 1919
Subfamily Opuntioideae. Plants shrubby, often weak climbers with few branches or creeping, with numerous segmented stems, without dimorphic branches. Stems round in cross section and cane-like, sometimes slightly compressed, or round, obovate, or elliptical in outline and somewhat flattened, unsegmented orsegmented, green, succulent, becoming woody with age. Leaves small, very reduced, slender and cylindrical, round in cross section. Areoles black, producing easily shed glochids. Spines 2-3 or none, soon deciduous, 2-3 mm long. Flowers borne around stem tips, nearly terminal, open at night and day, pale yellow, tinged with green to violet to brown; floral tubes hollow, thick, stemlike, persistent, bearing tiny scales and areoles with glochids; perianth parts reflexed; stamens and style greatly exserted in a tight bundle from the perianth; long curly hairs forming a ring between stamens and perianth; pollen 12-porate, with extremely fine small spines and perforations. Fruits solitary, fleshy, oblong, green, white, brownish, or reddish, with a deep umbilicus; floral remains deciduous. Seeds subglobose, 3-4 mm long, whitish, globose to pear shaped, slightly compressed laterally; funicular envelope densely covered with trichomes; funicular girdle well developed but only slightly protruding. Distribution: caatinga vegetation of eastern and northeastern Brazil.
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