CUMULOPUNTIA

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Autor: Ritter

• ETYMOLOGY
“Pile or heap of Opuntias”, referring to the mound-shaped (or compact cushions) that the plants of this genus form in habitat.
• DESCRIPTION
A genus of low-growing plants branching laterally or at the apex, with more or less compact, segmented stems, spherical, ellipsoid or egg-shaped segments, forming usually very spiny cushions. Tuberous or fibrous roots. Tiny leaves soon falling. Areoles with hairs and glochids. Spines often concentrated in the upper part of the stems.
Flowers diurnal, self-sterile, funnel-shaped to bell-shaped, yellow, orange or red, pollinated by hymenoptera (Caenohalictus pupurisus) or diptera (Habromyia lipoflava, Lyophlaeba consobrina), also by beetles (Buprestidae like Atacamita chilensis). Fruits vary in shape, globular to ovoid, spiny and covered with glochids, thick and fleshy although seeds remain dry inside. Seeds compressed, suborbicular, straw-coloured to brown. Their structure is similar to that of Austrocylindropuntia. Dispersion is made by excrements of animals which feed on fruits (endozoochory) like chinchillas (Chinchilla brevicaudata, C. chinchilla, the latter unfortunately extinct), Lagidium peruvianum) and guanacos (Llama guanicoe).
• HABITAT
The genus Cumulopuntia grows in full sun in the Andean altiplano among rocks, in sandy areas, or among grasses, and is probably one of the only genera among cacti living from the sea level up to the highest areas of the Andes: up to 4700 m in altitude (C. boliviana subsp. echinacea in Tacna, Peru).
• DISTRIBUTION
Argentina (Catamarca, Jujuy, Rioja, Salta, San Juan), Bolivia (Chuquisaca, La Paz, Oruro, Potosi), Chile (Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Tarapaca), Peru (Arequipa, Ayacucho, Ica, Lima, Moquegua, Puno, Tacna).

Currently 18 recognised species + 4 subspecies:
– Cumulopuntia boliviana* (Salm-Dyck) F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia boliviana subsp. dactylifera* (Vaupel) Hunt 2002
– Cumulopuntia boliviana subsp. echinacea* (F.Ritter) Hunt 2002
– Cumulopuntia boliviana subsp. ignescens* (Vaupel) Hunt 2002
– Cumulopuntia chichensis* (Cardenas) E.F.Anderson 1999 (ex Tephrocactus ferocior)
– Cumulopuntia corotilla* (K.Schum. ex Vaupel) E.F.Anderson 1999
– Cumulopuntia frigida F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia fulvicoma (Rauh & Backeb.) E.F.Anderson 1999
– Cumulopuntia galerasensis F.Ritter 1981
– Cumulopuntia hystrix F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia ignota* (Britton & Rose) F.Ritter 1981
– Cumulopuntia iturbicola* G.Charles 2011
– Cumulopuntia leucophaea* (Phil.) P.Hoxey 2009
– Cumulopuntia mistiensis (Backeb.) E.F.Anderson 1999
– Cumulopuntia pentlandii (Salm-Dyck) F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia pyrrhacantha (K.Schum.) F.Ritter 1981
– Cumulopuntia rossiana* (Heinrich & Backeb.) F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia sphaerica* (Forster) E.F.Anderson 1999
– Cumulopuntia subterranea* (R.E.Fries) F.Ritter 1980
– Cumulopuntia subterranea subsp. pulcherrima* (Halda & Horacek) G.J.Charles 2011
– Cumulopuntia tumida* F.Ritter 1981
– Cumulopuntia zehnderi* (Rauh & Backeb.) F.Ritter 1981

References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" -  ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)

 

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