Opuntia drummondii Graham. Phen: Apr-Jun; Aug-Oct. Hab: Dunes on barrier islands, less commonly inland on river-associated sands and on granite outcrops. Dist: This species is found most commonly along coastal dune systems and Gulf Coast barrier islands but also inland along riverine sands, and rarely on granite outcrops (often associated with O. mesacantha subsp. mesacantha)
Origin/Endemic status: Endemic
Other Comments: As mentioned by Small (1933) and Radford, Ahles, & Bell (1968), this little cactus (mostly of coastal dunes) is inconspicuous and often becomes attached by its retrorsely barbed-spines to the pants or shoes of people walking through the dunes. It can inflict painful wounds, the spines not easily removed from flesh or clothing because of the retrorse barbs. O. drummondii sometimes forms hybrid swarms with O. mesacantha on coastal dunes (see Y for additional discussion). O. drummondii is easily separated from other species in the eastern US by the production of very small cladodes with strongly retrorsely barbed spines; the cladodes easily disarticulate at the nodes and are often dispersed vegetatively forming clones of the parent plants. This species most often has fibrous root systems but sometimes produces small tubers as well. O. drummondii is most easily confused with O. nemoralis Griffiths of coastal w. LA, AR, MO, and TX. Intermediates between O. drummondii and O. mesacantha subsp. mesacantha have been found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and on granite in n. GA. Found throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, but mostly absent from the FL peninsula, forming a disjunction between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. A species with diploid, triploid, and tetraploid populations (2n=22, 33, 44).
Synonymy: = K4, RAB, Majure et al (2017); = Opuntia pusilla (Haw.) Haw. – Fl5, FNA4, K1, K3, WH3, Doyle (1990), Ward (2009e), apparently misapplied; > Opuntia drummondii Graham – S, Britton & Rose (1937); > Opuntia frustulenta Gibbes; > Opuntia pes-corvi Leconte ex Engelm.; > Opuntia pusilla (Haw.) Haw. – Britton & Rose (1937); > Opuntia tracyi Britton – S, Britton & Rose (1937)