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Useful Temperate Plants

Opuntia austrina

Small

Cactaceae


Opuntia austrina is a highly polymorphic species and has by some workers been divided into a number of other taxa that are here placed in synonymy: These are Opuntia ammophila, Opuntia atrocapensis, Opuntia cumulicola, Opuntia nitens, Opuntia polycarpa, and Opuntia turgida[
1989
Title
Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States
Publication
Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065
Author
Majure L.C., Judd W.S., Soltis P.S. & Soltis D.E.
Website
https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.290.1.1
Publisher
 
Year
2017
ISBN
1179-3155
Description
 
].

+ Synonyms

Opuntia ammophila Small

Opuntia atrocapensis Small

Opuntia compressa ammophila (Small) L.D.Benson

Opuntia compressa austrina (Small) L.D.Benson

Opuntia cumulicola Small

Opuntia humifusa ammophila (Small) L.D.Benson

Opuntia humifusa austrina (Small) Dressler

Opuntia nitens Small

Opuntia pisciformis Small ex Britton & Rose

Opuntia polycarpa Small

Opuntia spinalba Raf.

Opuntia turgida Small ex Britton & Rose

Common Name:

No Image.

General Information

Opuntia austrina is a usually spiny, evergreen, succulent cactus, usually erect and with a central trunk; it can grow 20 - 120cm tall, occasionally to 200cm[
1989
Title
Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States
Publication
Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065
Author
Majure L.C., Judd W.S., Soltis P.S. & Soltis D.E.
Website
https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.290.1.1
Publisher
 
Year
2017
ISBN
1179-3155
Description
 
].
The plant has edible fruits[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].
Opuntia austrina very widespread within its range and it occurs in protected areas. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
].

Known Hazards

The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids - these are barbed spines that are usually small to minute and are very sharp and brittle. The glochids are very easily dislodged when the plant is touched and can penetrate the skin where, because of their barbs, they become stuck and are very difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable irritation and discomfort[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].
Opuntia species can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, especially in older parts of the plant. Perfectly alright in small quantities, foods containing oxalic acid should not be eaten in large amounts since it can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
,
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].

Botanical References

1989
Title
Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States
Publication
Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065
Author
Majure L.C., Judd W.S., Soltis P.S. & Soltis D.E.
Website
https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.290.1.1
Publisher
 
Year
2017
ISBN
1179-3155
Description
 

Range

Southeast N. America - central Florida

Habitat

Scrub habitat dominated by scrub oaks, sand hills; at elevations from sea level to 60 metres[
1989
Title
Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States
Publication
Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065
Author
Majure L.C., Judd W.S., Soltis P.S. & Soltis D.E.
Website
https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.290.1.1
Publisher
 
Year
2017
ISBN
1179-3155
Description
 
].

Properties

Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Edibility Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details


In cultivation, Cactus plants generally will not succeed in moist climates. They usually require a sunny position in a well-drained, circumneutral soil and to be kept more or less dry in the dormant season[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw[
338
Title
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.iucnredlist.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A list of plants under threat and facing possible extinction, usually with brief details of the threats and information on habitat.
]. The club or barrel shaped, dark purple, red, pink, or yellow-green fruit is 28 - 50mm long[
1989
Title
Taxonomic revision of the Opuntia humifusa complex (Opuntieae: Cactaceae) of the eastern United States
Publication
Phytotaxa 290 (1): 001-065
Author
Majure L.C., Judd W.S., Soltis P.S. & Soltis D.E.
Website
https://doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.290.1.1
Publisher
 
Year
2017
ISBN
1179-3155
Description
 
].

The tender young stem segments of various species are often cooked as a vegetable[
411
Title
Trees and Shrubs of Mexico
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23
Author
Standley P.C.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution; Washington
Year
1926
ISBN
 
Description
Although dated, it contains a wealth of information on the trees and shrubs of Mexico, including many of their uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Known as ‘nopals’ in Mexico, where they are a common ingredient in numerous dishes, they can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups, stews and salads. The most commonly used species are Opuntia ficus-indica or Opuntia hyptiacantha (syn Opuntia matudae), although the stems of almost all Opuntia species are edible[
411
Title
Trees and Shrubs of Mexico
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23
Author
Standley P.C.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution; Washington
Year
1926
ISBN
 
Description
Although dated, it contains a wealth of information on the trees and shrubs of Mexico, including many of their uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
2001
Title
Uses of Opuntia Species and the potential impact of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera; Pyralidae) in Mexco
Publication
Florida Entomologist 84(4) pp 493-498 2001
Author
Vigueras A.L. & Portillo L.
Publisher
 
Year
2001
ISBN
 
Description
 
].

Medicinal

We have no specific information on medicinal uses for this species, but the following notes are likely to apply universally to Opuntia species and other related genera[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

The flesh of tender young stem segments can be applied as a poultice to reduce inflammation[
411
Title
Trees and Shrubs of Mexico
Publication
Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol 23
Author
Standley P.C.
Publisher
Smithsonian Institution; Washington
Year
1926
ISBN
 
Description
Although dated, it contains a wealth of information on the trees and shrubs of Mexico, including many of their uses. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The mucilage and soluble fibre found in the flowers and stem segments have been shown to help control blood-sugar levels associated with adult-onset diabetes[
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].
There is clinical evidence that the soluble fibre in the stem segments helps reduce blood cholesterol levels[
1999
Title
A natural history of the Sonoran Desert
Publication
 
Author
Phillips S.J. & Comus P.W.
Publisher
University of California Press; Los Angeles, California
Year
2000
ISBN
0-520-22029-3
Description
 
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter.
Cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2023-01-28. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Opuntia+austrina>

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