Opuntia phaeacantha var. major Engelm.
Family: Cactaceae
Opuntia phaeacantha var. major image
Benson 1982
Common Name: tulip pricklypear Duration: Perennial Protected Status: Salvage restriced status in Arizona. General: Similar to O. phaeacantha but with broadly obovate or nearly orbiculate pads that are 12- 25 cm long and 10-20 cm broad. Spines: Spines usually on upper one-half to one-third or slightly less of the joint with 1-3 spines per areole, the spines are dark brown and 6-7 cm long. Flowers: Flower 6-8 cm in diameter by 6-7.5 cm long, the inner tepals are yellow with red basal portions, but rarely entirely pink to red, each 3-4 cm long, the filaments are greenish below and pale yellow to white above, the style is white, and the fresh stigmas green to yellow green. Fruits: Similar to O. phaeacantha, they are wine red to purple with greenish flesh, obovoid instead of obovate and not long stipitate, spineless, but longer at 4.5-7+ cm long by 2-3 cm in diameter, with 15-40 areoles. Ecology: Found in rocky, gravelly, or sandy soils of hillsides, valleys, or flats, in desert grasslands, deserts, and woodlands from 2,000-7,000 ft (610-2134 m). Notes: This variety is the same as O. phaeacantha according to Tropicos and USDA Plants, and is listed as a synonym. ITIS accepts O. phaeacantha var. major, however. All information presented here taken from Benson 1982, who notes that this variety readily hybridizes with other varieties of O. phaeacantha and is difficult to tell apart from var. phaeacantha, also hybridizes with O erinacea var. erinacea in northern Arizona. Ethnobotany: Made into a drink, fruit was eaten fresh, dried, as a juice,for jams and jellies, the pads were pulped and made into cakes, roasted and boiled, the seeds made into a flour, and the pads were eaten as nopalitos. Etymology: Opuntia from ancient root puncti for prickled, while species name from Greek roots phaeo for dark or dusky and cantharo for beetle. Synonyms: Uncertain Editor: LCrumbacher, 2010