Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Texas, USA. It has also been reported from the literature from Coahuila, Mexico (Hernández et al. 2004). It grows at elevations of 5 to 600 m asl.
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National Distribution

Mexico

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: It occurs in the U.S. in Texas; and in Mexico in Coahuila (Hernandez et al. 2004).

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Tex.; Mexico (Coahuila).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs or trees, with short spiny trunks, erect, to 1(-1.5) m. Stem segments not disarticulating, light blue-green to yellow-green, flattened, circular to obovate, 8-12 × 8-12 cm, glaucous, ± tuberculate, glabrous; areoles 6-8 per diagonal row across midstem segment, oblong, 4-5 × 1-3 mm; wool brown to blackish. Spines usually 4-12 per areole, evenly distributed on stem segments, spreading, bright yellow to orange, red-brown at extreme base, aging tan to blackish, not chalky white, acicular; major spines (1-)3-5(-6) per areole, sometimes flattened and/or curved, 20-60 mm; smaller spines 1-7 per areole, slender, to 20 mm. Glochids well spaced in very narrow row encircling areole, subapical tuft not or poorly developed, yellow, unequal in length, to 5 mm. Flowers: inner tepals yellow with orange to red bases, obovate, 30-40 mm; filament yellow to pale green; anthers pale yellow; style yellow, sometimes basally pinkish; stigma lobes green. Fruits green to reddish, turning tan, burlike, 30-40 × 20-25 mm, beginning fleshy, quickly drying, glabrous, bearing several rigid, yellow spines; areoles 12-25. Seeds tan, flattened, irregular in outline, 3-6 mm diam.; girdle protruding to 1 mm. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Opuntia macrocentra Engelmann var. aureispina S. Brack & K. D. Heil, Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 60: 17, fig. 4. 1988
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species grows on limestone in xerophyllous scrub.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Limestone slabs and fractured limestone rocks in lechuguilla-sotol (Agave lecheguilla-Dasylirion leiophyllum) shrublands at low elevation near the Rio Grande River.

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Limestone desert flats, low hills; 500-600m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring (May).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Heil, K. & Terry, M.

Reviewer/s
Superina, M. & Goettsch, B.K.

Contributor/s

Justification
Even though Opuntia aureispina has a limited range, its population is dense, there are no major threats, and it occurs within a protected area. Hence, it is listed as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Mexico

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: Known only from 1 small area of Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas.

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Population

Population
The species is locally dense.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
No major threats are known for this species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species occurs within the Big Bend National Park.
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Notes

Comments

Opuntia aureispina hybridizes with O. phaeacantha (= O. spinosibacca M. S. Anthony) and O. macrocentra (= O. ×rooneyi M. P. Griffith).
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Texas Natural Heritage Program questions the validity of this taxon.

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