Cactus and Succulents forum→Help ID spineless variegated prickly pear!

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Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 23, 2018 5:38 PM CST


I saw this super cool plant at the Philly Flower Show this year. I was trying to get photos of it into the database, and for the life of me I cannot figure out the species. The garden show label only has the genus (Opuntia).

One site has something for sale, same plant according to the photos, and they call it Opuntia cochenilifera -- but that one is in the DB and seems to be both much larger and quite spiny. (sorry, lost the link to that one)

This O. cochenilifera pad looks "right" although lacks the variegation. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/...

I found this eBay listing with (again) a matching photo, and the seller says they aren't certain whether it's Opuntia cochenilifera or O. monocantha. https://www.ebay.com/itm/SPINE...

Another site says the spineless prickly pear species are O. ellisiana, O. stricta, or O. robusta. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/t...

So now I'm terrifically confused. I asked Zuzu for help when she rejected my first attempt to enter it as a variegated variety of O. cochenilifera, and she referred me to the experts on this forum!

Appreciate any help!

Thumb of 2018-05-23/critterologist/7a751f

Thumb of 2018-05-23/critterologist/ace3ba





I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
May 23, 2018 8:11 PM CST
Looks like a variegated version of O. cochenilifera to me. I know why you might think O. monacantha, because there is a very similarly variegated version of that, but it has a very different pad shape. O. cochenilifera is not spiny at all. Young pads have the Opuntia form of leaves on them that die off as the pad matures.

This is a tree-sized Opuntia - ie. with time it becomes very tall.
It has very distinct flowers here is a pad with some flower buds that have not yet opened:

Thumb of 2018-05-24/mcvansoest/edda96

And here you can see how big it is behind the cactus (which is about 5-6 feet tall):



The thing is with variegated versions of some plants that they sometimes look quite different compared to the non-variegated version, so while I feel pretty confident it is O. cochenilifera, it is not impossible that it could be something else. I have seen an Opuntia with similar variegation before, that I think, but do not remember for sure, was identified as something else (like O. xxxxx 'Sunburst' or something), so that might be worth trying to google and compare...
It is what it is!
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
May 23, 2018 8:21 PM CST

Plants Admin

Opuntia cochenillifera is now a synonym for Nopalea cochenillifera. Jill thought the plant looked "too spiny" in the photos in this entry.

Cochineal Cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera)
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
May 23, 2018 9:57 PM CST
zuzu, you are absolutely right on Nopalea cochenilifera being the official name these days, but many people still go by Opuntia c. and I am so used to using Opuntia c. that I keep forgetting that it is Nopalea.

I think the one picture with a plant with spines has the right looking flowers, but the spiny pads appear a little off, could just be a spinier version, but my plant pictured above is spineless and the tree in the Desert Botanical Garden is spineless too, and all pictures of it at cactiguide.com are also spineless. So I wonder if the photo with the spiny nopalea is actually nopalea dejecta, which has spines and the same flowers.

The 'sunburst' opuntia i was referring to, is actually a variegated version of Opuntia ficus-indica, which is also a mostly spineless opuntia. Flowers would distinguish them and if you had them next to each other you would also immediately know the difference as generally the pads on O. ficus-indica get way bigger, but without a proper scale item in the photo it is hard to know for sure.

Looking at the pictures in the OP, the way the pads are connected to each other makes me think of Nopalea cochenilifera.
It is what it is!
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
May 23, 2018 10:13 PM CST
As you can tell by the mix of prickly pear pads and orchid blooms in the photos above, I've never seen it growing in nature, LOL. But that variegation sure had me oooohing and grabbing for my camera!

Looking closely at the pads I photographed (see the young pad growing straight up in the center top of the last photo), I do see a few things that look spine-like but soft/green. Maybe that's the sort of thing that's on the pads in the DB photo that looked spiny to me. Confused
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
Plant Identifier Plant and/or Seed Trader Cat Lover Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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mcvansoest
May 23, 2018 10:24 PM CST
I think what you are talking about are the leaves that young pads on Opuntia/Nopalea often have. Check the small pads out in the first picture I posted... very similar looking.

It is what it is!
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
We're all learners, doers, teachers
Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Critters Allowed Butterflies Hummingbirder Cat Lover
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critterologist
May 24, 2018 5:12 AM CST
I see what you mean! Pretty cool.
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Region: California Cat Lover Roses Clematis Irises
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zuzu
May 26, 2018 6:02 PM CST

Plants Admin

I've created this entry for your photos, Jill. There once was an infraspecific taxon Opuntia cochenillifera f. variegata, but it lives on only in the mists of memory. When that happens, we usually treat the forma (f.) as a cultivar name.

Variegated Prickly Pear (Nopalea cochenillifera 'Variegata')
Name: Critter (Jill)
Frederick, MD (Zone 6b)
We're all learners, doers, teachers
Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Critters Allowed Butterflies Hummingbirder Cat Lover
Bee Lover Region: Mid-Atlantic Cottage Gardener Garden Photography Tropicals Hibiscus
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critterologist
May 27, 2018 8:37 AM CST
Hurray! Hurray!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris & Sharon.

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