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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in the south of Nevada, southwest of Utah, south of California and Arizona (United States) and the very north of Sonora and northern Baja California, Mexico (Paredes et al. 2000). It grows at elevations from 100 to 1,800 m asl.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Mexico.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs, forming clumps, 1-2(-3) segments tall, to 7-40 cm. Stem segments not disarticulating, blue- to yellow-green, sometimes tinged maroon-purple, flattened, spat-ulate to broadly obovate or subcircular, thick, 5-22(-35) × 2-13.5(-16) cm, nearly smooth, papillose to puberulent (rarely glabrous); areoles 4-16(-19) per diagonal row across midstem segment, circular to elliptic, 3-5 × 3 mm; wool white to tan, aging gray. Spines 0(-8) per areole, when present, usually in distal areoles, spreading, yellow, straight, acicular, 5-25 mm. Glochids numerous, nearly filling areoles, yellow to red-brown or dark brown, to 3 mm. Flowers: inner tepals pink to magenta throughout (rarely white), 25-40 mm; filaments red-magenta (rarely pale); anthers yellowish; style white to pink; stigma lobes white to cream. Fruits maturing tan, 20-40 × 15-23 mm, dry at maturity, puberulent, spineless (except in var. treleasei); umbilicus 5-12 mm deep; areoles 24-76. Seeds yellowish to tan, ± subspheric but angular, thick, 6.5-9 × 6.5-7 mm, sides smooth or bearing 1-3 depressions; girdle protruding to 1 mm.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species grows in sandy or rocky soil with chipping in plains, valleys, streams and hills generally in hot deserts. In Sonora it grows in rocky and granite soil (Paredes et al. 2000). The Nature Serve report it from sandy soils, gravelly or rocky soils of plains, valleys, washes, or canyons in the desert, woodland, grassland.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Sandy soils, gravelly or rocky soils of plains, valleys, washes, or canyons in the desert, woodland, grassland,

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Mojave Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Mojave Desert, the smallest of the four North American deserts. While the Mojave lies between the Great Basin Shrub Steppe and the Sonoran Desert, its fauna is more closely allied with the lower Colorado division of the Sonoran Desert. Dominant plants of the Mojave include Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Many-fruit Saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Desert Holly (Atriplex hymenelytra), White Burrobush (Hymenoclea salsola), and Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), the most notable endemic species in the region.

The Mojave’s warm temperate climate defines it as a distinct ecoregion. Mojave indicator species include Spiny Menodora (Menodora spinescens), Desert Senna (Cassia armata), Mojave Indigobush (Psorothamnus arborescens), and Shockley's Goldenhead (Acamptopappus shockleyi). The Mojave supports numerous species of cacti, including several endemics, such as Silver Cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa), Mojave Prickly Pear (O. erinacea), Beavertail Cactus (O. basilaris), and Cotton-top Cactus (Echinocactus polycephalus).

While the Mojave Desert is not so biologically distinct as the other desert ecoregions, distinctive endemic communities occur throughout. For example, the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve harbor seven species of endemic insects, including the Kelso Dunes Jerusalem Cricket (Ammopelmatus kelsoensis) and the Kelso Dunes Shieldback Katydid (Eremopedes kelsoensis). The Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma Scoparia), while not endemic to the dunes, is rare elsewhere. Flowering plants also attract butterflies such as the Mojave Sooty-wing (Pholisora libya), and the widely distributed Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).

There are a total of eight amphibian species present in the Mojave Desert all of which are anuran species: the endemic Relict Leopard Frog (Lithobates onca); the endemic Amargosa Toad (Anaxyrus nelsoni); Lowland Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); and the Pacific Treefrog (Pseudacris regilla).

The native range of California’s threatened Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) includes the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The Desert Tortoise has adapted for arid habitats by storing up to a liter of water in its urinary bladder. The following reptilian fauna are characteristic of the Mojave region in particular: Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT); Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus), Northern Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis), Western Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus), and regal horned lizard (Phrynosoma solare). Snake species include the Desert Rosy Boa (Charina trivirgata gracia), Mojave Patchnose Snake (Salvadora hexalepis mojavensis), and Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus).

Endemic mammals of the ecoregion include the Mojave Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus mohavensis) and Amargosa Vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis); and the California Leaf-nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus).

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Associations

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

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Population Biology

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).

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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
Pinkava, D.J., Baker, M. & Puente, R.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
Opuntia basilaris has a very wide range, is common and although there are threats in parts of its range which are impacting some of the varieties, there are no concerns for the species overall. Hence, it is listed as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread throughout the southwestern United States. EGR supports GRANK of G4G5 (86-05-08).

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Population

Population
The species is very scattered but locally common.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no significant threats to the species as a whole, but the California subpopulations have been impacted by human development (urban expansion and off-road vehicles).
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Comments: Most cacti subject to horticultural collecting.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The var. treleaseyi is protected in the State of California and there are also concerns about var. brachyclada as it has a very restricted range. The species occurs in a number of protected areas, such as Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Pinacate.
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Wikipedia

Opuntia basilaris

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.

The species is variable in nature and several names under different ranks has been described to science. Only four of these are generally accepted.

For full synonymy, see Wikispecies entry on Opuntia basilaris.

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.

Chemistry[edit]

Opuntia basilaris contains 0.01% mescaline and 4-hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine.[1]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Opuntia basilaris var. aurea of Kartesz (1994) treated as O. aurea by him in 1999.

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