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Previously, two species of Opuntia were recognized as present in British Columbia: O. fragilis and O. polyacantha. However, the BC Conservation Data Centre, and E-Flora BC, follow Flora North America, and no longer recognize O. polyacantha as present in the province.
Identification of cacti in the province is not completely clear, however, and different 'forms' of Opuntia have been observed here. Read more about Opuntia in BC and Washington.
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expanded illustration for this species.
General: Perennial herb from a fibrous root; mat-forming; stems prostrate, succulent, subglobose to rounded, fleshy, 5-20 cm tall; stem segments not much flattened, readily detaching from the plant, round to egg-shaped, 2-5 cm long; areoles coarsely white-woolly with a few yellowish, spiny bristles and 2-7 straight, yellowish to brownish, 1-3 cm long spines.
Leaves: Reduced to 2-7, large yellowish to brownish spines 1-3 cm long, strongly barbed.
Flowers: Inflorescence of single flowers with paper-thin petals, borne on previous year's pits, yellow, 3-5 cm across, stamens numerous with reddish stalks.
Fruits: Dry, spiny berry, 1.5-2 cm long, pear-shaped.
Dry grassy, sandy or gravelly slopes in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, less frequent on SE Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, rare along the Peace River in NE BC; E to ON and S to KS, IL, TX and N CA.
Fragile prickly pear is a native BC cactus with small pads that can be cylindrical (usually in the interior of the province) or larger and somewhat flattened (coastal forms). The pads can be upright or prostrate. In summer they produce bright yellow cactus flowers. Plant in full sun in sharply draining soil.
Note Author: Gary Lewis, Phoenix Perennials
Ecological Framework for Opuntia fragilis
The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range. (Updated August, 2013)
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2023-05-29 4:18:20 AM
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