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FamilyScientific Name Common NameHabitatDistributionImage
CactaceaeOpuntia ficus-indicaTuna Cactus, Indian-fig, Mission PricklypearCultivated and rarely escaped.Native of Mexico.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia austrinaSouthern Prickly Pear, Florida Prickly-pearFlorida scrub, longleaf pine sandhills, and transitional areas between Florida scrub, longleaf pine sandhills and pine flatwoods, dunes, shell middens, in deep, sandy soils.Apparently endemic to FL occurring throughout most of the state but most common in the peninsula and mostly absent from the Panhandle.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia humifusaEastern Prickly PearSlate outcrops, sandy soils, upland hardwood forests or mixed pine-hardwood forests in dry, clay or silty soils.O. humifusa is restricted primarily to the Appalachian Mountains and mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, but also occurs in the inner Coastal Plain of c. and nc. MS (Attala, Choctaw, Grenada, Webster cos.).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia monacanthaCommon Prickly-pearDisturbed areas, sometimes persistent or escaping from horticultural use.Native of South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay). Although O. monacantha can form trees to several meters high, those found in FL typically are smaller, erect shrubs – maybe a result of environmental conditions.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia drummondiiDune Prickly-pear, Sand-bur Prickly-pear, Little Prickly-pear, Creeping CactusDunes on barrier islands, less commonly inland on river-associated sands and on granite outcrops.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)image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia stricta var. dilleniiCoastal Prickly Pear, Shell Midden Prickly-pear, YaaxpakanCoastal dunes and coastal scrub, occasionally in water-logged saline soils of mangroves.Var. dillenii is most common in the Caribbean region but makes its way into the se. US along both the Atlantic (north to e. SC) and Gulf coasts (of the FL peninsula and panhandle and coastal AL).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia stricta var. strictaCoastal Prickly Pear, Shell Midden Prickly-pearCoastal dunes and coastal scrub, shell middens in salt marshes of the Gulf Coast, occasionally in water-logged saline soils of mangroves.Se. NC (reports from VA are based on a misidentification) south to s. FL, west to e. LA.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia macrorhizaTuberous-rooted Prickly-pear, Plains Prickly-pearSandy or silty prairies, glades, limestone rock outcrops.Mostly of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, w. LA, AR, MO into the Midwestern states.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia lindheimeriTexas Prickly-pearDisturbed areas, where persistent or spreading from cultivation (Majure et al. 2011), but also apparently early introduced by native Americans or early settlers on coastal dunes and sand barrens on barrier islands.Native of sc. United States south into Mexico. Although found along the coast in NC (New Hanover Co., where it grows with O. drummondii), SC, and VA (Henrico and Isle of Wight cos.), the origin(s) of those populations is unknown. The native range of O. engelmannii var. lindheimeri is the western US (although occurring in coastal w LA) and Mexico, so it seems unlikely that the coastal Atlantic populations are native; however, certain populations along the SC coast can be found in quite isolated locations (P. McMillan, pers. comm.). Small (1933) reported O. cantabrigiensis Lynch from dunes near Beaufort, NC, based on a fragmentary 1930 collection accompanied by a photograph. Similar plants were apparently seen near Beaufort by Engelmann, prior to 1856. Benson (1982) refers the collection tentatively to O. lindheimeri Engelmann var. cuija (Griffiths & Hare) L.D. Benson, treated in K as O. engelmannii Salm-Dyck ex Engelmann var. cuija Griffiths & Hare, a native of Mexico. Benson (1982) also stated, however, that it could also be var. lindheimeri (primarily of TX and Mexico), or, indeed, O. tuna (Linnaeus) P. Miller (native to the West Indies). Benson (1982) failed to relocate the plant in the field in 1956, but stated there was "insufficient time for a thorough search." Unless relocated, the identity of the plant will probably remain a mystery, as well as whether it represents a native species, an established population from aboriginal use, or a more recent introduction or adventive.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia abjectaJumping CactusCoastal rock barrens, rockland hammocks.Endemic to FL keys (Monroe County).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia ochrocentraBullsuckersRockland hammocks, coastal rock barrens.Endemic to lower FL keys (Monroe County).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia cespitosaCommon Eastern Prickly-pearLimestone and chalk outcrops, dolomite outcrops, glades, sandy or blackland prairies, upland hardwood or mixed hardwood-pine forests in dry, clay soils.This is the most common species (a tetraploid, 2n = 44) in the eastern United States; it has traditionally been considered conspecific with O. humifusa.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia cochenilliferaCochineal Nopal Cactus, TunitaDisturbed areas, persistent and escaping from cultivation; native to central America and Mexico.Occasionally growing as an escape in n. FL (and throughout FL peninsula), where it is commonly cultivated. Reported for s. FL in Broward County (Lange, Bradley, & Sadle [in prep.]).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia nemoralisPrickly-pearSaline prairies, shale barrens, longleaf pine sandhills.S. MO, AR, and LA west to se. TX.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia engelmannii var. engelmanniiEngelmann’s Prickly-pearDisturbed areas, planted as an ornamental and perhaps persisting or weakly spreading.Opuntia engelmannii is a large, shrubby hexaploid species (2n=66) with a primary distribution in the western United States and Mexico.
CactaceaeOpuntia engelmannii var. linguiformisCow’s-tongue Prickly-pear, Lengua de VacaPlanted as an ornamental in our area (and not clearly known from wild populations in its putative region of origin), rarely persisting or perhaps spreading.The type is from San Antonio, TX, and Britton & Rose (1937) state that "according to Dr. Griffiths, it is occasionally found wild near San Antonio".
CactaceaeOpuntia mesacantha ssp. mesacanthaPrickly-pearGranite outcrops, coastal dunes and scrub, longleaf pine sandhills, pine forests in sandy soils, Gulf Coast barrier Islands (AL, FL panhandle, MS), riverine sands.S. NJ south to sc. GA, c. AL, c. and n. MS, and se. TN; disjunct in FL Panhandle, s. AL, s. MS; disjunct in w. LA. Throughout the southern Piedmont, Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, but absent from the FL peninsula forming a disjunction between the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, as in O. drummondii, with which this subspecies is often associated, at least along the coast and in certain Piedmont populations on granite. See McAvoy (2021) for details of DE occurrence.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia mesacantha ssp. lataPrickly-pearCoastal dunes and scrub, sandhills, borders of pine flatwoods, scrub, coastal islands (FL, GA, SC), riverine sands.Ssp. lata is restricted to the outer Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains and the FL peninsula.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia phaeacanthaTulip Prickly-pearLimestone glades, westwards more general in rocky, sandy, or gravelly soils of open or lightly wooded areas.KS to CA south to TX and Mexico; disjunct in c. TN.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia leucotrichaDisturbed hammocks.Native of Mexico.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia atrispinaGrasslands, scrub, limestone hills.Sw. and se. TX (Bee County).image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia polyacantha var. polyacanthaHair-spine Prickly-pearGrasslands.SK and AB south to sw. LA, sw. TX, NM, and Mexico.image of plant
CactaceaeOpuntia cymochila

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