Erect or sprawling cactus with flattened, jointed stems to 1 m (3 ft) tall. Joints orbicular to obovate, to 25 cm (10 in) or more long. Spines to 4 cm (1.6 in) long, 1-6 per areole, sometimes absent except on upper areoles. Glochids yellow to brown, about 3 mm (0.1 in) long. Flowers 5-7.5 cm (2-3 in) long, greenish to yellow, blooming in May or June. Fruits fleshy, purple at maturity, with small areoles and glochids.
Distribution: The species is native to Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.
Habitat: rock outcrops and stony soils, mostly on limestone.
NWI status: none
Comment: Opuntia is a reference to some plant that grew in the Greek town of Opus; engelmannii honors the physician and botanist George Engelmann of St. Louis; lindheimeri honors the botanist Ferdinand Lindheimer of Texas, who sent many new species to George Engelmann and Asa Gray.
Distribution in Oklahoma: Arbuckle Hills, Arbuckle Plain, Wichita Mountains.
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Last update: 9/14/99
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