Overview

Comprehensive Description

Opuntia spp. are threatened by an infestation of the cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) that has a distribution encompassing South Carolina southward along the coast to Florida and eastward along the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana (Sauby et al., 2012: 562). The invasive moth feeds on species of the subfamily Opuntioideae. In Florida, infestation of C. cactorum was more typically on Opuntia stricta and Opuntia humifusa var. ammophila and may be related to their larger sizes and potential to release greater quantities of volatile organic compounds (Sauby et al., 2012: 566).

References

Sauby, K. E., Marsico, T. D., Ervin, G. N. & Brooks, C. P. 2012. The role of host identity in determining the distribution of the invasive moth Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in Florida. Florida Entomologist 95: 561-568, available at: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.1653/024.095.0304; accessed on: Nov 7, 2012.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Jacksonville University

Source: Jacksonville University BIOL204 Botany

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Opuntia pusilla, a member of the family Cactaceae, is commonly known as the sandbur or cockspur prickly pear. This species of cactus does not grow to be very tall (<15cm), but instead grows close to the ground and spreads outward to 4.5 m (Loflin & Loflin, 2009: 109; Majure, 2007: 73). Segments, also referred to as cladodes, of the stem are green and usually somewhat flat or cylinder-shaped up to 11 cm in length (Majure, 2007: 75). The segments consist of sharp glochids (small, hair-like barbs that grow in groups) and 1-4 retrorsely barbed spines (up to 6 cm in length) per areole or spine cushopn (Majure, 2007: 37, 76). Opuntia pusilla is identified by having segments that easily break off and get stuck in anything that touches them and this characteristic is a means for dispersal (Loflin & Loflin, 2009: 109, Majure, 2007: 72). In addition, terminal clodes detach on their own and can thus increase the patch diameter (Majure, 2007: 73). Shading can contribute to smaller cladode sizes (Majure, 2007: 74). Opuntia pusilla blooms greenish yellow flowers from April-May and produces red to purple fruits up to 3 cm in length (Loflin & Loflin, 2009: 109).

References

Loflin, B. & Loflin, S. 2009. Texas Cacti. 312 pp. China: Everbest Printing Co.

Majure, L. C. 2007. The ecology and morphological variation of Opuntia (Cactaceae) species in the mid-south, United States. PhD dissertation, Mississippi State University.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Jacksonville University

Source: Jacksonville University BIOL204 Botany

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Range: Texas at Rockport and Anahuac; coastal regions from Mississippi to North Carolina, including N. Florida; rare near Ft. Meyers, Florida.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Range Description

The species is widely distributed in the southeastern United States, where it occurs in coastal regions from Mississippi to North Carolina. Its range includes northern Florida and presumably Galveston, Texas (Benson 1982) although this has not been verified.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ala., Fla., Ga. , Miss., N.C., S.C., Tex.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution of Opuntia pusilla is in the coastal parts of southern United States, typically in sand dune systems, pine-scrub forests (Loflin & Loflin, 2009: 109; Majure, 2007: 35). It is most common to coastal dunes in Florida northward to North Carolina and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas (NatureServe Explorer, 2012).

References

Loflin, B. & Loflin, S. 2009. Texas Cacti. 312 pp. China: Everbest Printing Co.

Majure, L. C. 2007. The ecology and morphological variation of Opuntia (Cactaceae) species in the mid-south, United States. PhD dissertation, Mississippi State University.

NatureServe Explorer. 2012. Available at: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Opuntia+pusilla; accessed on: Oct 16, 2012.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Jacksonville University

Source: Jacksonville University BIOL204 Botany

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs, creeping, often forming mats, trailing, to 0.1 m. Stem segments easily detached, green, purplish red under stress, flattened, elliptic to linear, sometimes subcylindric (to subspheric), 2.5-5(-8) × 1.2-2.5 cm, tuberculate, glabrous; areoles 2-5 per diagonal row across midstem segment, subcircular, 2-3 mm diam.; wool tan to gray. Spines (0-)1-2(-4) per areole, in distal 3/4 of stem segment areoles (to nearly spineless), porrect to spreading, red-brown, aging gray, stout, straight, terete, to 30 mm, strongly barbed. Glochids in crescent at adaxial edge of areole, pale yellow, aging brown, to 3 mm, longest at areole apex. Flowers: inner tepals yellow throughout, 20-30 mm; filaments and anthers yellow; style and stigma lobes white. Fruits green becoming red-purple at late maturity, barrel-shaped, 18-30 × 12-20 mm, fleshy, glabrous, spineless; areoles 8-16. Seeds tan, subcircular, flattened, 4-6 mm diam.; girdle slightly protruding. 2n = 44.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Cactus pusillus Haworth, Misc. Nat., 188. 1803; Opuntia drummondii Graham; O. tracyi Britton
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Type Information

Neotype for Opuntia pusilla (Haw.) Nutt.
Catalog Number: US 3046577
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. K. Small
Year Collected: 1916
Locality: Charleston, Folly Island, South Carolina, United States, North America
  • Neotype: Gibbes, L. R. 1859. Proc. Elliot Soc. Nat. Hist. Charleston. 1: 273.; Benson, L. D. 1982. Cacti U.S. Canada. 923.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Sand of mostly coastal dunes, beaches, and woods near sea level. Open areas of along edges of deciduous forests.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occurs in sandy habitats on coastal dunes, beaches, and woods near sea level. It also occurs in open areas and along edges of deciduous forests. There are numerous populations that occur in sandy areas along large rivers (L. Majure pers. comm. 2011).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Dune and pine scrub, primarily coastal, sandy openings, dunes, or rocky outcrops; 0-100m.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: Twenty-six EO's (Benson 1982).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring (Apr-May).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Known form the coastal regions from MS to NC, including N. FL, 26 EOs. Rank of S4? from MSHP, TX recommends G4 (4/94).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Majure, L.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
Opuntia pusilla is listed as Least Concern because it is widely distributed and there are no major threats at present.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Opuntia pusilla is rated as critically imperiled in Texas and vulnerable in North Carolina (NatureServe Explorer, 2012).

References

NatureServe Explorer. 2012. Available at: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Opuntia+pusilla; accessed on: Oct 16, 2012.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Jacksonville University

Source: Jacksonville University BIOL204 Botany

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
The population seems to be stable. Some subpopulations have hundreds of mature individuals.

Population Trend
Stable
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Comments: Most cacti subject to horticultural collecting.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Major Threats
The cactus moth Cactoblastus cactorum occurs within the range of this species and may be having a significant impact on this cactus.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Numerous subpopulations of this cactus occur within protected areas. No specific conservation measures are proposed for this species.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!