Autor: (Schumann) Berger
Opuntia of Brazil, placing the origin of the genus in this country, although it was later found also in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru .
A genus of treelike plants, with a clearly defined trunk, covered with groups of spines, with cylindrical stems producing pads (or cladodes) rather thin, wearing few aciculate spines. Tiny leaves quickly deciduous.
Flowers diurnal, self sterile, appearing on terminal pads, yellow, pollinated by bees. Fruits spherical, fleshy, very variable in shape and colours, can be yellow, orange, red or purple, with areoles densely covered with glochids. Seeds very large, yellow, thick, more or less discoid, with a strongly woolly funicular envelope. Dispersion of seeds probably ensured by mammals such as peccaries (Tayassu pecari).
The genus Brasiliopuntia has a wide but fragmented habitat in South America. This is a genus growing in dry spiny or ombrophilous forests, on plains or hills, from Brazil to Peru. It prefers a warm and humid climate, although it is also found in semi-open woodlands, natural rockeries, semi-deciduous woodlands, in the valleys of the river Paraná, humid woodlands of the Paraguay and Pilcomayo rivers, and in granitic mountains of Eastern Paraguay, up to 1300 m in altitude.
N. Argentina ( Chaco), E. Bolivia (Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz), Brazil (Bahia, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro), Paraguay (Viola Paraguay, Amambay, Central, Concepción, Cordillera, Guairá, Itapúa, Paraguari), Peru (Cuzco, Junin). Naturalized in the USA, Florida.
Currently only one recognised species:
– Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis* (Willd.) A.Berger 1926
References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" - ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)