Autor: Miller

Genus allegedly native of Opos, botanical Latin name of an ancient Greek village near Locria on the coast of Euboea (or Evia), Opountis in Greek, known for the presence of many spiny plants (except Opuntia). Opos is also mentioned in the Iliad.
A genus of shrubby to treelike plants, often with a distinct trunk, divided into segments (cladodes), mostly flattened, discoid, elliptic or elongated, rarely cylindrical. Tiny leaves, cylindrical or subulate, soon deciduous. Areoles with glochids and hairs; spines aciculate, subulate or setose, sheath absent.
Flowers diurnal, often self-fertile, rotate to wide open or elongated and narrow (in Nopalea), appearing on the margins of cladodes, usually solitary, pale to intense yellow, orange, red, carmine, pink, purple, sometimes whitish, or bicoloured, usually pollinated by bees: Andrenidae (Acamptopoeum prinii, Andrena fracta, Anthrenoides micans, Arhysosage cactorum, Calliopsis helianthi, C. puellae, Callynochium petunlae, Perdita sp., Psaenythia annulata, P. superba), Anthophoridae (Ancyloscelis fiebrigii, Anthophora californica., Diadasia sp., Ceratina asunciana, C. hyemalis, C. rupestres, C. volitans, Lanthanomelissa completa, Melissodes, Ptilothrix fructifera), Apidae (Apis mellifera, Bombus sonorus, Centris atripes, C. caesalpiniae, Ceratina melanoptera, Diadasia diminuta, D. opuntiae, D. rinconis, Melissodes paroselae, M. tristis, Plebeia emerina, P. wittmannii, Xylocopa californica), Colletidae (Cephalocolletes rugata, Colletes scopiventer, Hylaeus episcopales), Halictidae (Agapostemon angelicus, A. cockerelli, A. tyleri, Augochlora semiramis, Augochlorella neglectula, A. pomoniella, Augochloropsis euterpe, Dialictus sp., Halictus ligatus, H. tripartitus,Lasioglossum amicum, L clematisellum), and Megachilidae (Anthidiellum notatum, Anthidium jocosum, Ashmeadiella cactorum, A. clypeodentata, A. leucozona, A. meliloti, A. occipitales, A. opuntiae, A. vandykiella, Atoposmia anthodyta, Dianthidium curvatum, D. heterulkei, D. parvum, Lithurgus apicalis, L. rufiventris, Megachile frugales, M. odontostoma, M. sidalceae, Osmia subfasciata), also by hummingbirds (Amazilia luciae, A. rutila, A. tzacatl, A. violiceps, Archilochus colubris, Atthis eliotii, A. heloisa, Calothorax lucifer, Calypte anna, Cynanthus latirostris, C. sordidus, Heliomaster constantii, Selasphorus rufus), sometimes pollinated by bats (Choeronycteris mexicana, Glossophaga soricina, Leptonycteris yerbabuenae).
Flowers (except those of Nopalea) have sensitive stamens (thigmonasty or seismonasty).
Fruits more or less globose, fleshy or dry, umbilicate, usually garnished with glochids in the areoles, indehiscent. Seeds sometimes numerous, variable in size, very hard, flattened, discoid to kidney-shaped, white to brown, with a funicular enveloppe, glabrous or pubescent. Dispersal of seeds insured by small mammals and birds, also reptiles (eg. the tortoises and iguanas in the Galapagos islands).
The genus Opuntia has a huge geographic distribution, the number of species is one of the largest within the family of Cactaceae and furthermore, some of them (eg. O. engelmannii, O. phaeacantha, O. polyacantha…) are highly variable. It is found from Canada, down to Patagonia and throughout the Carribbean Islands. It occupies practically all habitats, eg. the typical chaparral of the southwest of the United States and northern Mexico, but also on alluvial plains and rocky cliffs, on rocky, sandy or gravelly soils, on volcanic rocks, among grasses, bushes and scrub, on dry rocky hillslopes, on the edge of canyons, also in open grasslands (in Missouri), regions of woody high plains, in forests of junipers (Juniperus spp.) and pines (Pinus spp.), in regions sometimes covered with snow in winter (O. fragilis, O. humifusa, O. polyacantha), from sea level up to 4100 m in altitude (O. sulphurea), in a plant association essentially composed of cacti and other succulents.
Antilles, Argentina (Buenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Cordoba, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Jujuy, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Salta, San Juan, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, Tucuman), Bahamas, Barbados, Bolivia (Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Tarija), Brazil (Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina), Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan), Colombia (Bolivar, Cauca), Costa Rica (Alajuela, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose), Cuba (Guantanamo), El Salvador (Usulutan), Ecuador (Azuay,Barbados, Bolivia (Cochabamba, La Paz, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Tarija), Brazil (Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina), Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan), Colombia (Bolivar, Cauca), Costa Rica (Alajuela, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas, San Jose), Cuba (Guantanamo), El Salvador (Usulutan), Ecuador (Azuay, Chimborazo, Galapagos, Pichincha), Guatemala (Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Quetzaltenango, Quiche, San Marcos, Sacatepequez, Zacapa), Haiti, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Mexico (Aguascalientes, Baja California, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Colima, D.F., Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatan, Zacatecas), Nicaragua, Paraguay (Alto Paraguay, Boqueron, Central, Concepcion, Cordillera, Guaira, Misiones, Neembucu, Paraguari, Presidente Hayes, San Pedro), Panama, Peru (Ancash, Apurimac, Cajamarca, Huanuco, La Libertad, Lima, Pasco, Piura, San Martin, Tumbes), Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay (Montevideo), USA (Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, !owa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachussets, Minnesota, Mississipi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming), Venezuela (D.F, etc.). Several species are cultivated worldwide (O. ficus-indica) and have become invasive (O. dillenii, O. stricta) in many
countries (South Africa, Australia, Botswana, Spain, the Canary Islands, Italy, India, Morocco, Yemen, etc.).


Currently approximately 143 recognised species (including the former genus Nopaleo indicated by “N”) plus uncountable reported hybrids (only one presented here):
– Opuntia abjecta* Small 1923 (non O. triacantha)
– Opuntia aciculata* Griff. 1916 (= O. orbiculata)
– Opuntia aequatonalis* Britton & Rose 1919 (= prob. hybr. between O. pubescens and O.
– Opuntia altomagdalenensis Xhonneux 2006
– Opuntia ammophila* Small 1919
– Opuntia anacantha Speg. 1904
– Opuntia arechavaletae* Speg. 1905
– Opuntia arenaria* Engelm. 1857
– Opuntia arizonica Griff. 1909
– Opuntia atrispina* Griff. 1910
– Opuntia (N.) auberi* Pfeiff. 1840
– Opuntia aurantiaca* Gilles ex Lindley 1833
– Opuntia aurea* McCabe ex E.M.Baxter 1933
– Opuntia aureispina* (S.Brack & K.Heil) Pinkava & B.D.Parfitt 1988
– Opuntia bakeri* Madsen 1989 (hybr. probable)
– Opuntia basilaris* Engelm. & Bigelow 1856
– Opuntia bella* Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia bensonii Sanchez-Mej. 1972
– Opuntia bergeriana Berger 1904
– Opuntia bisetosa* Pittier 1936 (= Tacinga ?)
– Opuntia boldinghii* Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia bravoana* E.M.Baxter 1933
– Opuntia camanchica* Engelm. & Bigelow 1857
– Opuntia canina* Spegazzini 1905
– Opuntia caracassana* Salm-Dyck 1850
– Opuntia cardiosperma K.Schum. 1899
– Opuntia chaffeyi* Britton & Rose 1913
– Opuntia charlestonensis* Clokey 1943 (prob. hybr. between O. phaeacantha and O. polyacantha)
– Opuntia chisosensis* (M.Anthony) D.J.Ferguson 1986
– Opuntia chlorotica* Engelm. & Bigelow 1856
– Opuntia cochabambensis* Cardenas 1953
– Opuntia (N.) cochenillifera* (L.) Miller 1768
– Opuntia colubrina A.Cast. 1955
– Opuntia comonduensis* (J.M. Coult.) Britton & Rose 1908
– Opuntia cubensis* Britt. & Rose 1912 (prob. hybr. between O. militaris and O. dillenii)
– Opuntia curassavica (L.) Mill. 1768
– Opuntia curvispina* Griff. 1916 (‘curvospina’, prob. hybr. between O. chlorotica and O. phaeacantha)
– Opuntia deamii* Rose 1911
– Opuntia decumbens* Salm-Dyck 1834
– Opuntia (N.) dejecta* Salm-Dyck 1834
– Opuntia delaetiana (Web.) Vaupel 1913
– Opuntia depressa* Rose 1908
– Opuntia dillenii* (Ker Gawl.) Haw. 1819
– Opuntia diploursina* Stock, Hussey, & Beckstrom 2014
– Opuntia discolor Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia eichlamii* Rose 1911
– Opuntia ekmanii Werderm. 1931
– Opuntia elata* Link & Otto ex Salm-Dyck 1834
– Opuntia elatior* Mill. 1768
– Opuntia elizondoana* E.Sanchez & Villasenor 1994
– Opuntia ellisiana* Griff. 1910
– Opuntia engelmannii* Salm-Dyck ex Engelm. 1850 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia excelsa* Sanchez-Mej. 1972
– Opuntia ficus-indica* (L..) Mill. 1768 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia fragilis* (Nutt.) Haw. 1819 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia fuliginosa* Griff. 1908
– Opuntia galapageia* Hensl. 1837
– Opuntia (N.) gaumeri* J.Lode 2014
– Opuntia gosseliniana* F.A.C.Weber 1902
– Opuntia guatemalensis* (Rose) Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia hitchcokiii Gonzalez Ortega 1929
– Opuntia (N.) hondurensis* Standi. 1940
– Opuntia howeyi* Purpus 1925
– Opuntia huajuapensis Bravo 1954
– Opuntia humifusa* (Rafinesque) Raf. 1830 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia hyptiacantha* F.A.C.Weber 1898
– Opuntia inaequilateralis* A.Berger 1905
– Opuntia (N.) inaperta (Schott ex Griffiths) D.R.Hunt 1997
– Opuntia infesta (Ritter) lliff 1997
– Opuntia jalisca na Bravo 1972
– Opuntia jamaicensis* Britton & Harris 1911 (non O. caracassana)
– Opuntia (N.) karwinskiana* (Salm-Dyck) K.Schumann 1898
– Opuntia keyensis* Britton ex Small 1919
– Opuntia lagunae* E.M.Baxter ex Bravo 1932
– Opuntia lasiacantha* Pfeiff. 1837
– Opuntia leucotricha* DC. 1828
– Opuntia linguiformis* Griff. 1908
– Opuntia littoralis* (Engelm.) Cockerell 1905
– Opuntia (N.) lutea* (Rose) D.R.Hunt 1997
– Opuntia macbridei* Britton & Rose 1923
– Opuntia macdougaliana Rose 1908
– Opuntia macrocentra* Engelm. 1857
– Opuntia macrorhiza* Engelm. 1850
– Opuntia megapotamica Arechav. 1904
– Opuntia megarhiza* Rose 1906
– Opuntia megasperma* J.T.Howell 1933
– Opuntia microdasys* (Lehm.) Pfeiff. 1837
– Opuntia militaris* Britt.& Rose 1919 (non O. triacantha)
– Opuntia monacantha* (Willd.) Haw. 1819
– Opuntia ochrocentra* Britt.& Rose 1923 (non O. triacantha)
– Opuntia oricola* Philbrick 1964
– Opuntia pachyrrhiza* Hernandez, Gomez-Hinostrosa & Barcenas 2001 (non O. megarhiza)
– Opuntia pailana* Weingart 1929
– Opuntia parviclada S.Arias & S.Gama 1997
– Opuntia pascoensis Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia phaeacantha* Engelm. 1849 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia pilifera* F.A.C.Weber 1898
– Opuntia pinkavae* B.D.Parfitt 1997
– Opuntia pittieri* Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia polyacantha* Haw. 1819 (taxon extremely complex)
– Opuntia pottsii* Salm-Dyck 1850
– Opuntia puberula* Pfeiff. 1837
– Opuntia pubescens* H.Wendl. ex Pfeiff. 1837
– Opuntia pusilla* (Haw.) Haw 1812
– Opuntia pycnantha* Engelm. 1896
– Opuntia quimilo* K.Schum. 189
– Opuntia quitensis* F.A.C.Weber 1898
– Opuntia rastrera* F.A.C.Weber 1898
– Opuntia repens* Bello 1881
– Opuntia retrorsa* Speg. 1905
– Opuntia rhodantha K.Schumann 1898
– Opuntia robusta* H.Wendl. 1835
– Opuntia rufida* Engelm. 1857
– Opuntia salvadorensis Britton &. Rose 1925
– Opuntia sanguinea* Proctor 1982
– Opuntia santa-rita* (Griff. & Hare) Rose 1908
– Opuntia scheeri* F.A.C.Weber 1898
– Opuntia schickendantzii* F.A.C.Weber 1898 (= O. conjungens?)
– Opuntia schumannii F.A.C.Weber ex A.Berger 1904
– Opuntia soederstromiana* Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia stenarthra K.Schum. 1899
– Opuntia stenopetala* Engelm. 1857
– Opuntia streptacantha* Lem. 1839
– Opuntia Stricta* (Haw.) Haw. 1812
– Opuntia strigil* Engelm. 1857
– Opuntia sulphurea* G.Don 1830
– Opuntia tapona* Coulter 1896
– Opuntia taylorii Britton & Rose 1908
– Opuntia tehuacana* S.Arias & U.Guzman 1997
– Opuntia tehuantepecana* (Bravo) Bravo 1972
– Opuntia tomentosa* Salm-Dyck 1822
– Opuntia tortispina* Engelm. 1856
– Opuntia triacantha* (Willd.) Sweet 1829
– Opuntia undulata Griff. 1911
– Opuntia utkilio Speg. 1905
– Opuntia valida Griff. 1914
– Opuntia (N.) velizii J .Lode 2014 (= ex Nopalea guatemalensis Britt. & Rose)
– Opuntia velutina* F.A.C.Weber 1904
– Opuntia viridirubra (F.Ritter) Schlindwein 1995
– Opuntia vitelliniflora (F.Ritter) P.J.Braun & Esteves 1995
– Opuntia wilcoxii* Britton & Rose 1919
– Opuntia zebrina Small 1919
– Opuntia X vaseyi* Britton & Rose 1908

References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" -  ISBN 978-84-617-3692-8 (Vol. 2)