Plant: tree or shrub, 0.5-1.5 m tall, with trunks to 20 cm long. PADS gray-green to yellow-green, glabrous, circular to broadly obovate, sometimes wider than long, 12-22 cm long, 12.5-20 cm broad. AREOLES 6-9 in a row diagonal across midpad, circular to elliptic, 4-7 mm long, 3-7 mm wide; wool tan to brown, aging gray Leaves: SPINES in most areoles, reddish yellow to red-brown, the distal ones often yellow, the basal ones sometimes whitish; major spines stiff, (0-)4-8(-9), mostly deflexed but sometimes spreading, particularly on pad margins, subterete to flattened, even channelled adaxially, sometimes twisted and curved, the largest 4-6 cm long. GLOCHIDS 1-6(-12) mm long, yellow to yellow-brown, crowded in an extended marginal apical crescent nearly encircling the areole plus a less dense subapical tuft obscured by the long dense wool Flowers: inner tepals yellow sometimes with a faint basal reddish blush, broadly obovate, apiculate, 2.2-3.5 cm long; filaments yellow; style white; fresh stigmas greenish white Fruit: FRUITS dull red with green flesh, ovate to obovate, spineless, 3.2-5.0 cm long, 1.5-3 cm in diameter, the umbilicus 4-6 mm deep; areoles 28-46. SEEDS yellowish, reniform to subcircular, the flat sides smooth; girdle protruding 0.5-0.8 mm Misc: Sandy to gravelly flats or slopes, desert grassland to oak and/or juniper woodlands; 1000-1500 m (3200-5000 ft); Apr-Jul REFERENCES: Pinkava, Donald J. Cactaceae. 2003. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 35(2).
FNA 2003, Pinkava 2003
Common Name: searchlight pricklypear Duration: Perennial Protected Status: Salvage restricted status in Arizona. General: Upright and shrubby from 0.5-1.5 m tall with trunks to 20 cm long, the pads are gray green to yellow green, flattened and glabrous, they are circular to broadly obovate and sometimes wider than long at 12-22 cm long and 12.5-20 cm broad, there are 6-9 areoles per diagonal row across the midstem, they are prominent and circular to elliptic, 4-7 mm long by 3-7 mm broad, with a wool that is tan to brown but aging gray. Spines: Spines in most areoles are reddish yellow to red brown, the upper yellow and basal ones sometimes whitish, the 0-9 major spines are stiff and mostly deflexed but sometimes spreading on pad margins, sometimes they are curved and the largest are 4-6 cm long, the glochids are crowded in an extended marginal crescent that nearly encircles the areole and the less dense subapical tuft is obscured by long dense wool that is yellow to yellow brown and 1-6 mm. Flowers: The inner tepals are 2.2-3.5 cm long and yellow with faint basal reddish blush, broadly obovate and apiculate, with yellow filaments and anthers, and a white style. Fruits: Dull red with green flesh, they are ovate to obovate and spineless, 3 -5 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide, with 28-46 areoles. Ecology: Found on sandy to gravelly flats or slopes,in desert grasslands, woodlands, gravelly flats, or slopes from 3,000-5,000 ft (914-1524 m), flowers April-July. Notes: Opuntia martiniana was separated from this taxon by Parfitt in 1980, but Pinkava argues that their both being tetraploid putative hybrids, close proximity, and similar traits don't warrant separation. Ethnobotany: The fruits are edible as in most Opuntia. Etymology: Opuntia from ancient root puncti for prickled, while curvospina means curved spines. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley, 2010