Overview

Distribution

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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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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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

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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Habitat and Ecology

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

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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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

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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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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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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