Opuntia and related species (opuntiads) are unique cacti that have unusual shapes and beautiful flowers. They are common in parts of the United States and Mexico, but they occur throughout the Americas. There are over 100 species in the USA. Opuntia Web describes opuntias of the United States. Chollas etc is our sister Website and describes other opuntiads of the USA.
Of the many opuntias in the USA, some have been forgotten by time because they were discovered over 100 years ago. Some opuntias look superficially alike and only close inspection can tell them apart. Thus, casual observation might indicate one species where there are actually two. Early botanists identified them and understood their uniqueness, and we use those historical records along with field studies to identify them, their differences, and their similarities.
What We Do
We describe the various species, and we have large photographs so you can see details. The goal is to show you what these plants look like and to describe them in easy-to-understand terms. A group of editors verifies all the information in this Website, and we strive to present accurate information. We’ve traveled to many places to photograph opuntias, and we’ve visited many libraries to find relevant printed information. But we’re always happy to learn new things. Maybe you have new information or spotted an error or a typo. If you find an opuntia, maybe we can help you identify it. Just write to us.
Why We Do It
Opuntias are unique and worth studying. This Website helps you understand and enjoy this group of easy-to-grow cacti. One reason we study them is that they are so numerous in the warmer parts of the county. Also, we study them because they are so confusing in the literature and on the Web. It is a fun detective story to find the original publications and match them with the plants. And we just enjoy writing.
How Do You Pronounce It?
Opuntia is pronounced two different ways. It doesn’t matter which pronunciation you use; cactus enthusiasts will understand you.
–oh-poon’-tee-uh– OR –oh-pun’-cha–