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Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw.
Family Cactaceae
Common name: Common Prickly Pear, Smooth Pest Pear

Opuntia stricta (Haw.) Haw. APNI*

Synonyms: Opuntia inermis (DC.) DC. APNI*
Opuntia bentonii Griffiths APNI*

Description: Bushy, clumped plant, distinct trunks absent, clumps usually <1.5 m high; segments mostly <20 cm long, mostly dull bluish green to green but not glaucous. Segments elliptic to obovate, compressed, 10–30 cm long, 7–20 cm wide.

Leaves 3–4 mm long, shed early. Areoles filled with brownish woolly hairs; glochids short; spines 0–11, 1–5 cm long.

Flowers yellow.

Fruit usually obovoid, depressed at apex, tapering to a slender base, 4–5 cm long, dark purple, edible if glochids removed.

M. Flockton

Photo W. Cherry

Photo W. Cherry

Photo W. Cherry

Distribution and occurrence: This species covered large areas in pest proportions. In N.S.W. the denser infestations were in NWS, CWS, NWP, also in Hunter Valley and smaller areas SW of Sydney. It is still widespread but it has been controlled to a great extent by the Cactoblastis insects. Native of trop. & subtrop. Amer. All divisons; all mainland States.
NSW subdivisions: *NC, *CC, *SC, *NT, *CT, *ST, *NWS, *CWS, *SWS, *NWP, *SWP, *NFWP, *SFWP, *LHI
Other Australian states: *Qld *Vic. *S.A. *W.A. *N.T.
AVH map***

Opuntia stricta var. dillenii is now recognised at species rank, as O. dillenii. The above description needs updating and may include features of both O. stricta and O. dillenii. Opuntia stricta is distinguished by spines absent, sometimes 1 per areole on margin of stem segments. K.L.Gibbons, 22 June 2022.

 Key to the varieties 
1Spines absent, sometimes 1 per areole on margin of stem segmentsvar. stricta
Spines 1–11 per areole on most areolesvar. dillenii

APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.

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