Autor: Backeberg

“Cylindrical Opuntia of the South”, referring to the shape of the related genus Cylindropuntia, a native of North America, while Austrocylindropuntia lives in South America.
A genus of compact plants forming large cushions, bushy or shrubby, with cylindrical stems of indefinite growth, with more or less persistent cylindrical leaves, tuberous roots. Areoles developing hairs, glochids and spines without papery sheath (typical of Cylindropuntia, from North America). The position of the vascular bundles, and the group of xylem and phloem cells which are arranged side by side validate the genus.
Flowers diurnal, bell-shaped, yellow, pink or red, with usually short tepals, pollinated by bees, butterflies and
hummingbirds (Patagona gigas). Fruits spherical to pear-shaped, very thick-walled. Seeds large, globose or pearshaped, yellow. Dispersal provided (amongst others) by Rheas (Pterocnemia pennata).
The genus Austrocylindropuntia grows in full sun in sometimes extremely barren arid areas, or in the shade of
scattered shrubs, among grasses, on soils made up of clastic, sandy or stony sediments, on Andean highlands between 1500 and 4550 m in altitude.
Argentina (Catamarca, Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán), Bolivia (Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Oruro, S. La Paz, Potosí, Tarija),
Ecuador (Cañar, Chimborazo, Pichincha), Peru (Ancash, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cuzco, Huancavelica, Junin, La Libertad, Lima, Piura, Puno).

Currently 7 recognised species + 2 subspecies:
– Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica* (A.L.Juss. ex Lam.) Backeb. 1942
– Austrocylindropuntia fioccosa* (Salm-Dyck ex Winterfeld) F.Ritter 1981
– Austrocylindropuntia fioccosa subsp. yanganucensis (Rauh & Backeb.) Ostolaza 2008
– Austrocylindropuntia hirschii (Backeb.) E.F.Anderson 1999
– Austrocylindropuntia pachypus* (K.Schum) Backeb. 1941
– Austrocylindropuntia shaferi* (Britton & Rose) Backeb. 1951
– Austrocylindropuntia subulata* (Muehlenpf.) Backeb. 1941
– Austrocylindropuntia subulata subsp. exaitata* (Berger) Hunt 2002
– Austrocylindropuntia teres (Cels ex F.A.C. Weber) Backeb. 1935
– Austrocylindropuntia vestita* (Salm-Dyck) Backeb. 1939

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