Image of Brittle Cactus
Creatures » » Plants » » Cacti »

Brittle Cactus

Opuntia fragilis (Nutt.) Haw.

Comments

provided by eFloras
Opuntia fragilis is a widespread, though inconspicuous, species; in many places, it flowers infrequently, if at all. Its easily detached stem segments are dispersed by animals and possibly water.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Description

provided by eFloras
Shrubs, low, forming mats, 2-10 cm. Stem segments easily detached when terminal, dark green, subspheric to subcylindric, to flattened and elliptic obovate, (1.5-)2-5.5 × (1-)1.5-3 cm, low tuberculate (pronounced when dried), glabrous; areoles 3-5 per diagonal row across midstem segment, oval, 3 × 2.5 mm; wool white. Spines 3-8 per areole, in most areoles spreading, gray with brown tips, straight, ± acicular, terete, the longest 8-24 mm; depressed spines at base of areoles 0-3, 1-3 mm. Glochids in crescent at adaxial margin of areole, tan to brown, inconspicuous, to 3 mm. Flowers: inner tepals yellow, sometimes basally red, 20-26 mm; filaments white or red; anthers yellow; style white; stigma lobes green. Fruits tan, 10-30 × 8-15 mm, dry, glabrous; areoles 12-22, distal areoles bearing 1-6 short spines. Seeds tan to gray, flattened, warped, oblong to subcircular, 5-6 mm diam.; girdle protruding 1-1.5 mm. 2n = 66.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Distribution

provided by eFloras
Alta., B.C., Man., Ont., Sask.; Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Ill., Iowa, Kans., Mich. , Minn., Mont., Nebr., N.Mex., N.Dak., Okla., Oreg., S.Dak., Tex., Utah, Wash., Wis., Wyo.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Flowering/Fruiting

provided by eFloras
Flowering summer (late Jun-early Jul).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Habitat

provided by eFloras
Barren areas in grasslands, woodlands, sandy or gravelly soils, on outcrops of granite, limestone, or quartzite; 0-2400m.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Synonym

provided by eFloras
Cactus fragilis Nuttall, Gen. N. Amer. Pl. 1: 296. 1818; Opuntia brachyarthra Engelmann & J. M. Bigelow; O. fragilis var. brachyarthra (Engelmann & J. M. Bigelow) J. M. Coulter
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA
bibliographic citation
Flora of North America Vol. 4: 93, 124, 146 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
source
Flora of North America @ eFloras.org
editor
Flora of North America Editorial Committee
project
eFloras.org
original
visit source
partner site
eFloras

Range

provided by EOL authors
Opuntia fragilis occurs from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario southward to the southwestern USA states. This species is the taxon of the farthest north occurrence of any member of the cactaceae family, having observations recorded as far north as 58 degrees northern latitude. Northern occurrences include the Peace River area of British Columbia eastward to western Manitoba and Ontario. USA occurrences include the state of Washington eastward to Minnesota and Wisconsin, and south to New Mexico, Arizona and California.
license
cc-by-nc
copyright
C.Michael Hogan
bibliographic citation
C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Cactus. Topic ed. Arthur Dawson. Ed.-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
author
C. Michael Hogan (cmichaelhogan)
original
visit source
partner site
EOL authors

Common Names

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
brittle pricklypear

brittle prickly-pear

fragile pricklypear

little pricklypear

pygmy pricklypear

pygmy-tuna
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Conservation Status

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Brittle pricklypear is state listed as protected in Nevada [73], threatened in Iowa and Wisconsin [36,82], and endangered in Illinois and Michigan [35,53]. Little pricklypear is listed as threatened in Iowa, protected in Nevada, and protected from salvage in Arizona. Pygmy pricklypear is listed as threatened in Iowa, protected in Nevada, and protected from salvage in Arizona [73].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Description

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: cactus, fruit

This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Several florae provide keys for identifying brittle pricklypear [9,32,45,50,80].

Brittle pricklypear is a perennial native mat- or clump-forming cactus, usually 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) tall. The clumps or mats often exceed 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The succulent stem segments, or pads, are 0.5 to 5 inches (1.2-2.5 cm) wide and range in length from 0.8 to 2 inches (2-5 cm) for pygmy pricklypear and 2 to 2.8 inches (5-7cm) for little pricklypear. Aereoles on the pads give rise to 2 to 7 barbed spines that are 0.5 to 0.8 inch (1.2-2 cm) long for pygmy pricklypear and 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2-3) cm long for little pricklypear. Flowers are solitary, 1.2 to 2 inches (3-5 cm) long and broad. The fruit is a pear-shaped berry, 0.6 to 0.8 inch (1.5-2 cm) long, and is usually spiny. The seeds are glabrous, flattened, oblong to subcircular, and 0.2 inch (5 mm) in diameter. The root system is shallow and fibrous [9,21,50,68].

Brittle pricklypear is extremely tolerant of drought. It avoids drought damage by accumulating water in storage cells that contain mucilaginous materials with a strong water-retaining capacity [37].

license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Distribution

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: cactus

Brittle pricklypear is widely distributed across North America. It occurs from Ontario south to Texas and west to British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. Brittle pricklypear is rare in Ontario, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin [39,77], and extremely rare or possibly extirpated in California [17,39]. Brittle pricklypear is found further north than any other cactus species in the world, growing in northern Alberta only 4o south of the Arctic Circle [9]. The Flora of North America provides a distribution map of brittle pricklypear. Plants database provides state distributional maps of its varieties.

Varieties: Pygmy pricklypear occurs throughout the general range of brittle pricklypear. Little pricklypear occurs in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah [39].

license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Fire Management Considerations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: fire exclusion, fire frequency, forest, frequency

Repeated fires can greatly reduce populations of Opuntia species. High fire frequency may eliminate brittle pricklypears from a site for many years until new plants reestablish from seeds or pads carried onto the site by birds or mammals [9,70].

In Washington, brittle pricklypear habitat has been greatly reduced due to development and forest expansion resulting from fire exclusion [77].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: hemicryptophyte, stem succulent

RAUNKIAER [59] LIFE FORM:
Hemicryptophyte
Stem succulent
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Habitat characteristics

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: cacti, cactus, xeric

Brittle pricklypear can flourish on a great range of sites. It is found at elevations ranging from sea level to 11,089 feet (3,380 m), will grow well on various types of soils under a wide range of moisture regimes, and can survive extremes of both hot and cold temperatures [9,48,80].

Brittle pricklypear is perhaps the most cold tolerant of all the cacti species, being able to survive on sites where the minimum winter temperatures can drop below -58 oF (-50 oC). The cactus avoids freeze damage by rapidly reducing the water content in cells during cold acclimation. The short stature of the plants allows brittle pricklypear to take advantage of the insulating effects of snow and the thermal environment at the soil surface. Brittle pricklypear also is able to withstand temperatures in excess of 131 oF (55 oC) [37,48].

Brittle pricklypear is most commonly found on rocky, sandy or gravely soils, but can also flourish on silty, loamy, or clayey soils. It is tolerant of salt-affected, alkaline, and solodized (dealkalized) soils [9,80,81]. 

The moisture regimes at which brittle pricklypear can be found are quite varied. For example, in British Columbia, brittle pricklypear occurs on sites ranging from very xeric to hygric [42].

The following table lists reported elevational ranges for brittle pricklypear:

State or province Elevation AZ 6,500 to 7,500 feet (1,981-2,286 m) [40] CO 4,500 to 7,500 feet (1,372-2,286 m) [28] NM 4,500 to 8,000 feet (1,372-2,438 m) [50] UT 4,495 to 8,415 feet (1,370-2,565 m) [80] WA 14 to 4,500 feet (4-1,372 m) [77] BC 738 to 11,089 feet (225-3,380) [42]
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Habitat: Cover Types

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [20]:





42 Bur Oak

68 Mesquite

220 Rocky Mountain juniper

236 Bur oak

237 Interior ponderosa pine

239 Pinyon-juniper

242 Mesquite
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Habitat: Ecosystem

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

More info for the term: shrub

ECOSYSTEMS [24]:





FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES29 Sagebrush

FRES30 Desert shrub

FRES32 Texas savanna

FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe

FRES35 Pinyon-juniper

FRES36 Mountain grasslands

FRES38 Plains grasslands

FRES39 Prairie

FRES40 Desert grasslands
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Habitat: Plant Associations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the terms: forest, shrub, woodland

KUCHLER [44] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:





K010 Ponderosa shrub forest

K011 Western ponderosa pine forest

K016 Eastern ponderosa forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest

K019 Arizona pine forest

K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland

K024 Juniper steppe woodland

K031 Oak-juniper woodland

K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub

K038 Great Basin sagebrush

K039 Blackbrush

K040 Saltbush-greasewood

K053 Grama-galleta steppe

K055 Sagebrush steppe

K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe

K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe

K063 Foothills prairie

K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

K065 Grama-buffalo grass

K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass

K069 Bluestem-grama prairie

K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie

K074 Bluestem prairie

K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie

K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100

K085 Mesquite-buffalo grass

K086 Juniper-oak savanna

K087 Mesquite-oak savanna
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the terms: cover, grassland, shrub, shrubland, woodland

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [65]:




101 Bluebunch wheatgrass

102 Idaho fescue

104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

110 Ponderosa pine-grassland

212 Blackbush

301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama

302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass

303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass

304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass

309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass

310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama

311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass

314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass

322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass

401 Basin big sagebrush

402 Mountain big sagebrush

403 Wyoming big sagebrush

404 Threetip sagebrush

405 Black sagebrush

406 Low sagebrush

408 Other sagebrush types

412 Juniper-pinyon woodland

414 Salt desert shrub

415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany

416 True mountain-mahogany

417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany

501 Saltbush-greasewood

502 Grama-galleta

504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland

505 Grama-tobosa shrub

601 Bluestem prairie

602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed

603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass

604 Bluestem-grama prairie

605 Sandsage prairie

606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass

607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass

608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass

609 Wheatgrass-grama

610 Wheatgrass

611 Blue grama-buffalo grass

612 Sagebrush-grass

613 Fescue grassland

614 Crested wheatgrass

615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama

701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass

702 Black grama-alkali sacaton

703 Black grama-sideoats grama

704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass

705 Blue grama-galleta

706 Blue grama-sideoats grama

707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama

708 Bluestem-dropseed

709 Bluestem-grama

710 Bluestem prairie

711 Bluestem-sacahuista prairie

712 Galleta-alkali sacaton

713 Grama-muhly-threeawn

714 Grama-bluestem

715 Grama-buffalo grass

716 Grama-feathergrass

717 Little bluestem-Indiangrass-Texas wintergrass

718 Mesquite-grama

720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)

721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)

722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie

724 Sideoats grama-New Mexico feathergrass-winterfat

727 Mesquite-buffalo grass

729 Mesquite

733 Juniper-oak

734 Mesquite-oak

735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Immediate Effect of Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: high-severity fire, litter, low-severity fire, moderate-severity fire

The aboveground parts of brittle pricklypear are readily killed by even low-severity fire. Some fleshy pads may survive low- to moderate-severity fire when they are partially covered by litter or sheltered within a clump of stems. High-severity fire usually kills the entire plant [10,70].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: cover

Stems, fruits, and seeds of brittle pricklypear may comprise an appreciable portion of the diet of at least 44 species of birds and mammals [8]. For example, a study near Flagstaff, Arizona, showed that brittle pricklypear and twist-spine pricklypear (Opuntia macrorhiza) were major food items for Botta's pocket gophers in winter and spring. Although use was less, the pocket gophers also consistently grazed pricklypears in summer and fall [7]. The pads of Opuntia species can be used as emergency forage for livestock after the spines have been singed off [34].

Brittle pricklypear provides food for cactus-feeding insects including moths, bugs, and beetles. For a list of insect species that graze brittle pricklypear, see [8,15,76].

Palatability/nutritional value: Brittle pricklypear is low in nutritional value for livestock [34].

Cover value: No information is available on this topic.

license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Key Plant Community Associations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: grassland, shrub, woodland

Brittle pricklypear occurs in a variety of desert, grassland, prairie, and
woodland communities. It occurs as a community associate and not a dominant
species [9]. Brief descriptions of the common dominants and associates
are presented below. More detailed descriptions of plant communities where brittle
pricklypear occurs are available in the publications listed at the end of this
section.

Brittle pricklypear is commonly found in upland grasslands dominated
by various bunchgrasses including blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis),
buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa
secunda), bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii),
and green needlegrass (Nassella viridula) [31,46,55,72,81].


In tallgrass prairies dominated by big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)
and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), brittle pricklypear
occurs but is an uncommon associate [30,81].


Brittle pricklypear is a common associate in a wide variety of habitat
types dominated by big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and silver
sagebrush (A. cana). It also occurs as an associate in various
shrub communities including those dominated by greasewood (Sarcobatus
vermiculatus), shadscale saltbush (Atriplex confertifolia), and
blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima) [14,31,49,72].


In the Sandhills region of Colorado and Nebraska, brittle pricklypear is commonly
found in communities dominated by sand sagebrush (Artemisia
filifolia), prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia), sand
bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus), hairy grama (Bouteloua
hirsuta), and sandhill muhly (Muhlenbergia pungens) [58,62].


Brittle pricklypear occurs in various woodland communities, notably dry ponderosa pine
(Pinus ponderosa) communities,
dry ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) habitat types, pinyon-juniper (P.
edulis-Juniperus spp.) woodlands and Gambel oak (Quercus
gambelii) thickets [1,51,77,79,80].

Publications that discuss plant communities in which brittle pricklypear
occurs are listed below. The list is neither restrictive nor all
inclusive.



AZ [13,49]

CA [13]

CO [13,51,58]

ID [18]

MT [1,14,55]

ND [31]

NE [62]

NM [13]

NV [13]

ON [72]

SD [30,81]

SK [33]

TX [13]

UT [13,27]
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Life Form

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: cactus

Cactus
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Management considerations

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: cactus, cover, grassland, herbaceous

Brittle pricklypear may increase in response to heavy grazing. In a Sandberg
bluegrass grassland in southern British Columbia, brittle pricklypear was the
dominant herbaceous cover species in heavily grazed pastures [72].
However, researchers are not sure if brittle pricklypear populations respond to
a reduction in the preferred forage species or if grazing animals simply aid
brittle pricklypear's spread and establishment by transporting the pads on their bodies
[12].




Brittle pricklypear is susceptible to damage by several insects including
the cochineal scale, the cactus bug, and several species of cactus
borers [8,15,76].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Other uses and values

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Humans eat the stems, fruits, and seeds of brittle pricklypear. The stems are usually roasted and peeled before being eaten. Fruits are eaten raw, dried or cooked and are often used to make jellies. Native Americans used the mucilaginous juice from the stems as a fixing agent for paints [68]. Seeds are roasted and ground into flour [8]. Brittle pricklypear has been used medicinally to sooth sore throats and relieve skin irritations [39].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Phenology

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: fire regime, fire tolerant, grassland, ground residual colonizer, initial off-site colonizer, layering, litter, root crown, secondary colonizer, seed, woodland

Brittle pricklypear flowers from May at low elevations to July at high elevations. Fruits mature 2 to 3 months after flowering and many persist until the following spring [9,25,50]. FIRE ECOLOGY SPECIES: Opuntia fragilis

FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:
Fire adaptations: Thomas [70] lists brittle pricklypear as fire tolerant. Brittle pricklypear is adapted to survive fire by sprouting from the root crown, by layering from old pads that were buried and protected in the litter layer, and by new seedling establishment [69,70].

FIRE REGIMES: Brittle pricklypear occurs in plant communities with a wide range of fire frequencies, from less than 10 years for many prairie and grassland communities, to the 400 years possible for the Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis) community. As of this writing (2005), fire ecology studies are lacking for brittle pricklypear. The following table provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where brittle pricklypear occurs. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find FIRE REGIMES".

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years) bluestem prairie Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 43,56] Nebraska sandhills prairie Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium <10 bluestem-Sacahuista prairie Andropogon littoralis-Spartina spartinae <10 [56] silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [29,57,83] sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [56] basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [61] mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [4,16,54] Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40**) [74,84] saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus 56] desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 10 to <100 [52,56] plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. <35 [56,83] blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii <35 [56,60,83] blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides <35 [56,83] grama-galleta steppe Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii <35 to <100 blue grama-tobosa prairie Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis mutica 56] blackbrush Coleogyne ramosissima <35 to <100 Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum <35 [56] wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii <5-47+ [56,57,83] pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. <35 [56] Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [22,26,41,56] interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [3,6,47] Arizona pine Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica 2-15 [6,19,64] mesquite Prosopis glandulosa <35 to <100 [52,56] mesquite-buffalo grass Prosopis glandulosa-Buchloe dactyloides <35 Texas savanna Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa <10 [56] mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (µ=10) [2,3] oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. <35 to <200 [56] blackland prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Nassella leucotricha <10 Fayette prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Buchloe dactyloides <10 [75] little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. <35 [56] *fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [67]:
Surface rhizome/chamaephytic root crown in organic mantle or on soil surface
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Plant Response to Fire

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the term: root crown

Following mortality of aboveground tissues, brittle pricklypear grows new pads from buds in the root crown. New plants also develop from surviving pads that readily grow new roots whether the pads are detached or still attached to the parent plant [70].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Regeneration Processes

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info for the terms: layering, monoecious, seed

Brittle pricklypear reproduces by seeds, layering, and sprouting from detached stem segments [68].

Breeding system: Brittle pricklypear is monoecious [9].

Pollination: Brittle pricklypear is pollinated by insects [9].

Seed production: Brittle pricklypear does not dependably flower every year in its northerly range, thus limiting seed production in these areas [9,48,79].

Seed dispersal: Seeds of brittle pricklypear are primarily spread when the fruits are eaten by frugivorous birds and small mammals. Fruits also readily attach to the fur and feathers of animals [8,68].

Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.

Germination: Germination rate is reportedly low for seeds of Opuntia species [71].

Seedling establishment/growth: Although the literature reports that brittle pricklypear regenerates by seeds [9], information is lacking on the specifics of seedling establishment and growth.

Asexual regeneration: Asexual reproduction occurs from detached pads which readily root even in the absence of water. The pads are primarily dispersed by attaching to animals by the barbed spines. The pads are also dispersed by gravity and by floating in water during heavy rains or snow melt. In the northerly range of brittle pricklypear, flowering can be rare and the plant may depend wholly on vegetative reproduction [9,48].

license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Regional Distribution in the Western United States

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [11]:





6 Upper Basin and Range

7 Lower Basin and Range

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

11 Southern Rocky Mountains

12 Colorado Plateau

13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont

14 Great Plains

15 Black Hills Uplift

16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

States or Provinces

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
(key to state/province abbreviations)
UNITED STATES AZ CA CO ID IL IA KS MI MN MT NE NV NM ND OK OR SD TX UT WA WI WY
CANADA AB BC MB ON SK
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Successional Status

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: forbs, lichens, shrubs, succession

Brittle pricklypear is often an early seral species and is shade intolerant. It may persist well on shallow soils of low fertility where other plants are sparse, but may decrease on more fertile sites as taller vegetation becomes established [48,77]. In a study of rock outcrop succession in boreal Manitoba, brittle pricklypear was the 1st of the stress-tolerant perennials to occupy rock outcrops. The successional sequence was: 1) lichens (Parmelia and Cladonia spp.), 2) moss (Grimmia and Hedwigia spp.) mats, 3) vascular annuals, 4) short-lived perennial forbs 5) stress-tolerant, long-lived perennial forbs, 6) deep-rooted perennial grasses, and 7) trees and shrubs. Brittle pricklypear did not persist past stage 4 [23].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Taxonomy

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants

The scientific name of brittle pricklypear is Opuntia fragilis
(Nutt.) Haw. (Cactaceae) [9,21,38,39,45,80].

Infrataxa: Based upon differences in distribution and plant size, some systematists recognize 2 varieties
of brittle pricklypear [9,38,39,50,78]:


Opuntia fragilis var. brachyarthra (Engelm. & Bigelow) Coult, little pricklypear

Opuntia fragilis var. fragilis, pygmy pricklypear


Hybrids: Brittle pricklypear hybridizes with plains pricklypear (O. polyacantha) and
grizzlybear pricklypear (O. erinacea) [9].

license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

provided by Fire Effects Information System Plants
Brittle pricklypear has been recommended as a native species for roadside recovery plantings in shrublands of Nevada [66].
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Taylor, Jane E. 2005. Opuntia fragilis. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/cactus/opufra/all.html

Opuntia fragilis

provided by wikipedia EN

Opuntia fragilis, known by the common names brittle pricklypear and little prickly pear, is a prickly pear cactus native to much of western North America as well as some midwestern states such as Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. It also occurs in several Canadian provinces. It is known from farther north than any other cactus,[1] occurring at as far as 56°N latitude in British Columbia.[2] There is an isolated and possibly genetically unique population in Eastern Ontario known as the "Kaladar population".[3]

Description

Opuntia fragilis is a small, prostrate plant, rarely more than 10 cm (4 in) high: joints tumid, fragile, easily detached, oval, elliptical, or subglobose, 3–5 cm (1–2 in) long and nearly as thick as broad, bright green: areoles 0.6–1.3 cm (1412 in) apart, with whitish wool and a few white to yellow bristles, which are much longer and more abundant on older joints; spines 1–4, occasionally a few small additional ones, weak, dark brown, the upper one usually longer and stronger than the others, rarely 2.5 cm (1 in) in length: flowers greenish yellow, 2.5–3.2 cm (1–1+14 in) wide: fruit ovate to subglobose with few spines or bristles, mostly sterile, 2.5 cm (1 in) or less long; seeds few and large.[4]

Subspecies and varieties

  • Var. brachyarthra, Coult. A plant with more swollen joints, more numerous and stronger spines, smaller flowers and more spiny fruit Colorado, New Mexico.
  • Var. caespitosa, Hort. Joints bright green, smaller and more crowded than in the type: flowers bright yellow. Colorado.
  • Var. tuberiformis, Hort. Joints olive-green, bulbous-looking. Colorado.

References

 title=
license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN

Opuntia fragilis: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Opuntia fragilis, known by the common names brittle pricklypear and little prickly pear, is a prickly pear cactus native to much of western North America as well as some midwestern states such as Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. It also occurs in several Canadian provinces. It is known from farther north than any other cactus, occurring at as far as 56°N latitude in British Columbia. There is an isolated and possibly genetically unique population in Eastern Ontario known as the "Kaladar population".

license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN