Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Mexico.
Comments: Sandy soils, gravelly or rocky soils of plains, valleys, washes, or canyons in the desert, woodland, grassland,
Mojave Desert flora associations
Beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris, is found in California's Mojave Desert as one of the locations of occurrence of this species, . Some of the common flora associates are Shockley's goldenhead, Acamptopappus shockleyi; Desert senna, Cassia armata; Mojave dalea, Psorothamnus arborescens;and Spiny menodora, Menodora spinescens . Example cacti associates in this desert are: Mojave prickly pear, Opuntia erinaceatia; Silver cholla, O. echinocarpa, O. basilaris; and Many-headed barrel cactus, Echinocactus polycephalus. The chief megaflora of this desert region is the Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia. Soils here in the Mojave are mainly coarse sands and gravels with many outcrops that offer diverse habitat niches
- C.Michael Hogan. 2011. <i>Cactus</i>. Topic ed. Arthur Dawson. Ed.-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC http://www.eoearth.org/article/Cactus?topic=49480
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Over 100 EO's (Benson 1982).
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread throughout the southwestern United States. EGR supports GRANK of G4G5 (86-05-08).
Comments: Most cacti subject to horticultural collecting.
Opuntia basilaris, the Beavertail Cactus, is a cactus species found in southwest United States. It occurs mostly in the Mojave Desert, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Colorado Deserts, and also in the Colorado Plateau and northwest Mexico; it ranges through the Grand Canyon and Colorado River region to southern Utah, and in western Arizona, regions along the Lower Colorado River Valley. The Beavertail Cactus is a medium-sized to small prickly pear cactus, depending on variety, growing to about 60 cm tall. A single plant may consist of hundreds of fleshy, flattened pads. These are more or less blue-gray, depending on variety, growing to a length of 14 cm and are maximum 10 cm wide and 1 to 1.5 cm thick. They are typically spineless, but have instead many small barbed bristles, called glochids, that easily penetrate the skin. The pink to rose colored flowers are most common; however, a rare variety of white and even yellow flowers also exist. Opuntia basilaris bloom from spring to early summer.
- Opuntia basilaris subsp. basilaris
- Opuntia basilaris var. albiflorus
- Opuntia basilaris var. aurea
- Opuntia basilaris var. brachyclada
- Opuntia basilaris var. cordata
- Opuntia basilaris var. heilii
- Opuntia basilaris var. humistrata
- Opuntia basilaris var. longiareolata - Elongated Beavertail Prickly Pear
- Opuntia basilaris var. ramosa
- Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei - Trelease's Beavertail Prickly Pear, Bakersfield Cactus (This Species is designated as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act and California Endangered Species Act, which means that killing or possessing it is prohibited in California)
- Opuntia basilaris var. woodburyi
- Opuntia basilaris subsp. whitneyana
- Opuntia basilaris subsp. whitneyana var. whitneyana
Some experts consider the Trelease's Beavertail to be a full species (Bowen 1987, R. van de Hoek). It is unique among the varieties of Opuntia basilaris in that the eye-spots contain spines in addition to the bristles; this indicates that the species does vary a lot in its exterior.
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