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Opuntia aciculata

Opuntia aciculata (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Opuntioideae
Tribus: Opuntieae
Genus: Opuntia
Series: O. ser. Tunae
Species: Opuntia aciculata

Opuntia aciculata Griffiths, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 29: 10. 1916.


Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata (Griffiths) D.Weniger, Cacti S. W.: 178. 1969 syn. sec. Korotkova 2021
Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata (Griffiths) Bravo in Cact. Suc. Mex. 19: 47. 1974 syn. sec. Korotkova 2021
Opuntia lindheimeri var. aciculata (Griffiths) Bravo in Cact. Suc. Mex. 19: 47. 1974 syn. sec. Hunt 2006
Opuntia engelmannii subsp. aciculata (Griffiths) U.Guzmán & Mandujano in Cactaceae Syst. Init. 16: 18. 2003 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
Opuntia aciculata var. orbiculata Backeb., Descr. Cact. Nov. 10, 2769. 1956.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Southern Central USA
SW. Texas
Regional: Mexico
Mexico (Nuevo León)

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Griffiths, D. (1916) Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 29: 10.

Additional references

Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A. , Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2022. Opuntia aciculata in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 03. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Opuntia aciculata in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 Jan 03. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Opuntia aciculata. Published online. Accessed: Jan 03 2022. 2022. Opuntia aciculata. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 03 Jan 2022.

Vernacular names
English: Chenille pricklypear

Opuntia aciculata, also called Chenille pricklypear,[2][3][4] old man's whiskers, and cowboy's red whiskers,[4] is a perennial dicot and an attractive ornamental cactus native to Texas. It belongs to the genus Opuntia (prickly pear cacti). It is also widespread in Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas (northern Mexico).

It was reported from Nuevo León, Mexico, according to D. Weniger in 1970.[5] The specific name aciculata derives from many sources: the Latin word acicula which means “a small pin for a headdress”, and the adjectival suffix for nouns atus, meaning possessive of or likeness to something (with, shaped, made), while for verb participles it means a completed action. Chenille prickly pear, one of its vernacular names, comes for the fringe of spines around the edge of the pad.[6] The specific name also means "covered with small pins".[7][8]

Areoles on the circular or oval pads have prominent clusters of loosely-attached brown glochids, on the pad surface and especially along the edges.
An illustration of the species

It has numerous glochids or microspines, 3–12 mm long, acicular, slender, spreading, forming a dense cluster. They are normally golden yellow to dark red in color. It has often no spines, or rarely one to three, which are reflexed. They are of a yellowish or toasted colour with a brownish base, up to 3 cm in length.[7][9] They are often folded and seemingly deciduous.

It has broad, point-tipped blossoms colored golden yellow, orange, or red and of diameter 8–10 cm. Several sources report the flowers as being yellow in color, but the plants in cultivation usually have bright red-orange flowers, and sometimes the centre is greenish. Petals are broad-rounded or retuse, filaments are yellowish and the stigma dull yellowish with eight to 10 green lobes. They mostly flower in early summer or spring. The plant's fruits are usually pear-shaped, covered with fine spines and glochids, and are purple or green.[5][10]
Distribution and habitat

It is native to Chihuahuan Desert (Texas) and northern Mexico.[6][11][12]

Like its other cactus relatives, this deciduous and succulent species also has its leaves reduced to spines to reduce excess transpiration, which helps it to survive by conserving water in the hot climate of Texas, in southwestern United States, and North Mexico. This adaptation also helps in defending itself from being consumed by any herbivores there.[13] It has the special ability to propagate from woody or softwood stem cuttings. It can even propagate by cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season, allowing the cut surface to callus over before planting. This cactus can survive healthily and produce good many flowers only if it is fully exposed to the sun. They can also tolerate temperatures from −5 to −12 °C.[7]

The fruits are edible and the soft pads (nopales) can be cooked as vegetables. After burning of spines, the pads can serve as a good feed for cattle.[7]

Heil, K. & Terry, M. 2017. Opuntia aciculata (amended version of 2013 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T152685A121604669. Downloaded on 29 August 2021.
Kinsey, T. B. "Opuntia aciculata – Chenille Pricklypear". Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
"Opuntia aciculata". United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
"Opuntia aciculata". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 21 December 2012.
"Opuntia aciculata". Flora of North America. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
Franges, D. S. "Opuntia aciculata". Tucson Gardener. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
Cactus Art Nursery. "Opuntia aciculata (Syn: Opuntia engelmannii var. aciculata)".
"Opuntia aciculata". Cactus Art. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
"Opuntia aciculata" (PDF). Opuntia aciculata, original description.
Irish, Mary F. (2000). Gardening in the desert:a guide to plant selection and care. University of Arizona Press.: University of Arizona Press. p. 136. ISBN 0-8165-2057-7.
Arizona State University. "Opuntia aciculata".
Discover Life. "Opuntia aciculata Griffiths 1916 CHENILLE PRICKLY PEAR".
Learn2Grow. "Opuntia aciculata".

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