Enum. Diagn. Cact. 156 (1837) APNI
Spreading to erect shrub, to c. 1.7 m high, trunk in older plants cylindric, to c. 70 cm high, 10 cm diam. Terminal cladodes compressed, elliptic to obovate, 9–22 cm long, (3.5–)5–10 cm wide, dull light green to mid green; minutely papillate (papillae to 0.1 mm long); areoles (25–)30–60 per cladode face, 10–25 mm apart, filled with yellowish glochids and pale brown wool; spines (0–)1–3 per areole, 5–17 mm long, 0.5–0.7 mm wide near base, pale yellow ageing white, usually deflexed, occasionally erect near apex of cladode. Flowers 5–7 cm diam.; sepaloids dull crimson-tinged; petaloids spreading, bright yellow (the outer crimson-tinged), mucronate; stamens pale yellow; style white, stigmas green; hypanthium more or less tuberculate. Fruit obovoid, rather deeply depressed at apex when young, 5–7 cm long, 2–3 cm diam., not tuberculate, minutely papillate, reddish-purple, with short deciduous spines. Fruits usually persisting and proliferating, rarely ripening, splitting longitudinally. Flowers late spring–summer.
*GipP, *MuM, *OtP, *VRiv, *VVP, *Wim. Also naturalised SA, NSW. The country of origin of the plants naturalised in Australia is unknown. A weed principally of road and railway verges and abandoned gardens (e.g. Dimboola area, Bacchus Marsh, Melbourne suburbs, Mildura, Yarrawonga etc.).
The identity of this taxon and the application of the name as used here is uncertain. Telford (1984) did not provide a name for this entity, and suggested that it might represent Opuntia lubrica Griffiths which is now treated as a synonym of O. rufida Engel. which differs in having blue green or grey green cladodes, which have a minutely pubescent surface, and lack spines. Harden (1990) employed the name O. tenuispina Engel. in her account for the species in New South Wales, with the comment that O. tenuispina may be included in Opuntia sp. of Telford (1984). However, O. tenuispina is a synonym of O. macrorhiza, a rather different looking species, which forms low clumps to 13 cm high, and has much longer spines. As pointed out by Stajsic & Carr (1996), Australian plants have a minutely papillate epidermal surface, not pubescent as in O. puberula. It is possible that the Australian plants represent a hybrid taxon, possibly involving O. microdasys (Lehm.) Pfeiff. O. microdasys is naturalised in Western Australia, South Australia, and New South Wales. O. microdasys differs in having a minutely pubescent cladode surface, and the cladodes usually lack any spines.
|Bioregion||Occurrence status||Establishment means|
|Victorian Volcanic Plain||present||naturalised|
|New South Wales|
|Australian Capital Territory|