Opuntia humifusa complex

Locations ofOpuntia humifusa complex in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Opuntia humifusa complex
Common Name
Eastern Prickly-pear
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Opuntia caespitosa Raf. + Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. + Opuntia mesacantha Raf. ssp. mesacantha
Majure et al. (2017, Phytotaxa 290: 001-065) have published a well supported revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex based on a combined approach using phylogenetic, evolutionary, ecological, and morphological concepts. They recognize eight species, three of which are documented from Virginia: Opuntia cespitosa Raf., Opuntia humifusa (Raf.) Raf. (sensu stricto), and Opuntia mesacantha ssp. mesacantha. The map above represents the distribution of all three taxa. Individual maps for the three taxa have been started, based on herbarium studies by Majure et al. that did not include any Virginia herbaria. A future systematic evaluation of Opuntia specimens housed in our local herbaria will no doubt flesh out the individual distribution maps considerably. See the individual species maps for further discussion of within-state habitats and distribution.
Members of the complex occur in dry sandy or rocky habitats, including xeric pastures and road banks, open maritime forests and dunes, sandhill woodlands, granite flatrocks, and exposed outcrops of mafic igneous and metamorphic rocks such as diabase, metabasalt, and actinolite schist; occasionally on shale barrens or in rocky limestone woodlands. Infrequent throughout; locally common in some areas.
Native Status

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