Opuntia mesacantha subsp. mesacantha

Family:CACTACEAE
Species:Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
Common Name:Prickly-Pear
Habitat:Widespread in dry sandy soils or outcrops.
Associated Ecological Communities:**
Growth Habit:Shrub
Duration:Perennial
Category:Vascular
USDA Symbol:**
Plant Notes:Prickly-Pear is a native perennial succulent in the Cactus family (Cactaceae). It can be found throughout most of Alabama. Prickly-Pear occurs on rock outcrops, in sandhills, on dunes, and in dry sandy soils on roadsides and in pastures. It is a perennial with a taproot. The stems are flattened and segmented into roundish cladodes (pads) that can easily detach. The stems are green and succulent with a watery sap. The stems function as the site for photosynthesis and water storage. The stems of Prickly-Pear are covered in clusters of spines that occur on modified branches known as areoles. These areoles appear as small bumps. The spines are either modified leaves or modified bud scales. Prickly-Pear produces two types of spines—long ridged spines and short hair-like spines known as glochids. The glochids are barbed and easily detached. They are practically impossible to dislodge from the skin, and any movement often forces them deeper in. Prickly-Pear flowers are large, axillary, and solitary. The flower has an inferior ovary, numerous yellow tepals, and numerous yellow stamens. The fruit is a reddish-purple berry with numerous seeds. The young stems and fruit of Prickly-Pear are edible, but care must be exercised to remove all spines. Prickly-Pear is sometimes cultivated for its showy flowers. It prefers a well-draining, sandy soil in full sun. Cultivars without spines are available.—A. Diamond
Taxonomic Notes:For many decades, most Alabama native Opuntia were identified as O. pusilla [=drummondii] or O. humifusa. Maclure et al (2017) found that most of the Alabama "humifusa" determinations were in fact O. mesacantha (both subsp.) or O. cespitosa. While Maclure et al did not see any true O. humifusa specimens from Alabama in their study, that taxon is to be expected be part of the flora but less common that O. mesacantha and O. cespitosa. All older herbarium specimens previously identified as O. humifusa should be reevaluated and placed accordingly.
Status:Native
References:[1] Majure, L.C., W.S. Judd, P.S. Soltis, and D.E. Soltis. 2017. Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States. Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065. [2] Majure, L.C. 2014. Typifications and a nomenclatural change in some eastern North American Opuntia (Cactaceae). Phytoneuron 2014-106: 1–2.
Specimen: View specimen details in the Alabama Herbarium Consortium Specimen Database

** Not applicable or data not available.

Classification

FamilyCACTACEAE - Cactus family
Genus Opuntia
Species Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha - Prickly-Pear

Citation

Citation Opuntia mesacantha Raf., subsp. mesacantha, Ser. Bull. Bot. 216. 1830.
Basionym: **
Type: VIRGINIA: Hampton, 31 May 1878, Chickering, Jr. s.n. (Neotype: US).--Neotypification by Maclure 2014.

** Not applicable or data not available.

Synonyms

SynonymFull CitationBasionymType
Opuntia pollardii Opuntia pollardii Britton & Rose, Smithsonian Misc. Coll. 50: 523. 1908. MISSISSIPPI: Harrison Co.: Biloxi, 1 Aug 1896, Pollard 1138 (holotype: NY; isotypes: CU, F, GH, MO, US).

Specimens and Distribution

This species has been reported in the following counties by the herbaria listed. An overview of the individual specimens are provided in the table that follows. Click on the accession number to view details; click on column headers to sort; choose a county or herbaria to filter the specimen data.

Counties included on distribution map: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Greene, Lee, Marion, Mobile, Montgomery, Wilcox

Counties represented by specimen data listed below:

Herbaria represented by specimen data listed below: ALNHS, AUA, TROY, UNA, UWAL

Range of years during which specimens were collected: 1888 - 1979

Barcode / Accession No. County Coll. Date Collector &
Collection No.
Herbarium &
Herbarium Name Used
Image
AUA000039486 Lee 11 May 1957 Minton, Earl B.
AUA
Opuntia Mesacantha Raf.
TROY000048561 Autauga 29 Sep 2016 Parker, Matthew R.
102
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
TROY000037073 Bullock 09 May 2012 Dykes, Bailee
629
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque
TROY000050473 Marion 13 May 2017 England, J. Kevin
7757
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
ALNHS00001173 Barbour 16 May 2012 Barger, T. Wayne
SP#463
ALNHS
Opuntia mesacantha Raf.
UNA00058211 Baldwin 26 May 2002 Haynes, Robert R.
10260
UNA
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
UWAL0035404 Greene 07 May 2012 Keener, Brian R.
7235
UWAL
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque ssp. mesacantha
UWAL0039584 Montgomery 29 Jun 2014 Diamond, Alvin R.
25256
UWAL
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. Ssp. Mesacantha
UNA00017426 Autauga 15 Sep 1979 Wiersema, John H.
1313
UNA
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
UNA00017422 Mobile 12 May 1888 Mohr, Charles
s.n.
UNA
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
UWAL0036490 Marion 13 May 2017 England, J. Kevin
7757
UWAL
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque ssp. mesacantha
TROY000033634 Barbour 24 Sep 2011 Morrison, Derek
120
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque
UNA00017423 Baldwin 13 Mar 1979 Wiersema, John H.
504
UNA
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
TROY000046476 Montgomery 29 Jun 2014 Diamond, Alvin R.
25256
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque ssp. mesacantha
TROY000048853 Autauga 02 May 2017 Parker, Matthew R.
714
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
TROY000017513 Wilcox 30 Aug 2007 Diamond, Alvin R.
17991
TROY
Opuntia mesacantha Rafinesque ssp. mesacantha
UWAL0046904 Autauga 02 May 2017 Parker, Matthew R.
714
UWAL
Opuntia mesacantha Raf. subsp. mesacantha
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