Overview

Distribution

Global Range: Definitely present in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park, Brewster County, Texas, where it appears to be "local" overall (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2003) but reasonably common within the vegetation belts where it occurs; Anthony (1956) reports that it is "the most conspicuous and abundant cactus in encinal and montane belts from Upper Green Gulch all through the Basin and up the slopes of the higher peaks", and Powell and Weedin (2004) state that it is "common in the wooded areas". Also almost certainly found in the nearby Maderas del Carmen (igneous, wooded portion of the Sierra del Carmen) in Coahuila, Mexico (Ferguson 1986, cited in Powell and Weedin 2004). Beyond these known locations, the species may range more widely in both the United States and Mexico. Ferguson (1986, cited in Powell and Weedin 2004) notes that the species is "to be expected elsewhere in Mexico", while Powell and Weedin (2004) note that "the uncommon presence of certain yellow-spined prickly pears in the Davis, Guadalupe, and Franklin mountains suggests that O. chisosensis occurs outside the Chisos Mountains", although Ferguson (pers. comm., cited in Powell and Weedin 2004) speculates that those plants are not O. chisosensis.

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Tex.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs, erect, to 1 m. Stem segments not easily detached, bluish to gray-green, flattened, circular to broadly obovate, 15-30 × 12-25 cm, nearly smooth, glabrous; areoles 5-7 per diagonal row across midstem segment, elliptic to obovate, 3-8 × 2-6 mm; wool tan, aging blackish. Spines 1-5 per areole, spreading, yellow to orange, tipped yellow, darkening with age (at higher elevations), or dark red-brown (lower elevations), ± acicular, longest 20-67 mm, terete to flattened near base, often curved. Glochids widely spaced, in crescent at adaxial margin of areole, partially encircling areoles, and in poorly developed subapical tuft, yellow, of irregular lengths, tending to elongate towards bases of areoles, to 4 mm. Flowers: inner tepals pale yellow to buff throughout, to 25-30 mm; filaments pale green; anthers and style yellow; stigma lobes green. Fruits reddish purple, ellipsoid to spheric, barrel-shaped, 33-45 × 40-50 mm, juicy, base not or little tapered, glaucous, spineless; areoles 16-20, mostly near apex. Seeds yellow to tan, 3.5-4.5 × 3-4 mm diam.; girdle protruding to 1 mm. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Opuntia lindheimeri Engelmann var. chisosensis M. S. Anthony, Amer. Midl. Naturalist 55: 252, fig. 26. 1956
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Type Information

Isotype for Opuntia lindheimeri var. chisosensis M.S. Anthony
Catalog Number: US 2346113
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): M. S. Anthony
Year Collected: 1948
Locality: Texas, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Anthony, M. S. 1956. Amer. Midl. Naturalist. 55: 252.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Middle to upper slopes and canyons of desert mountains, in the encinal and montane vegetation belts. Often in oak-juniper-pinyon pine woodland communities, also found in mixed conifer forests and grassy meadows. 1600 - 2200 m.

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Pine-oak and mixed conifer forests, grasslands; 1600-2200m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering late spring (May).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Known from the Chisos Mountains in Brewster County, Texas, where it appears to be "local" overall but reasonably common within the encinal and montane vegetation belts of these desert mountains. Also almost certainly found in the nearby Maderas del Carmen in Coahuila, Mexico. It is possible that this species ranges more widely in both the United States and Mexico, and additional range information is needed to clarify its status. Often occurs in oak-juniper-pinyon pine woodland communities and is also found in mixed conifer forests and grassy meadows from 1600 to 2200 m elevation.

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Notes

Comments

Opuntia chisosensis is local in the Chisos Mountains in western Texas, and it has been reported from Sierra del Carmen in Coahuila, Mexico by Ferguson, but this has not been confirmed by the author. It is perhaps related to, or part of, the O. azurea Rose complex in northern Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico.
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