Opuntia turbinata Small, Manual of the Southeastern Flora 910, 1933
Colonies of Opuntia turbinata can be found in northeast FL including coastal northeastern Nassau County. The species can also be found Duval County, FL and in coastal southeastern GA. Because this species is confined to a very small geographical area, it is a candidate for consideration as and an endangered species; we hope this species will be around for future generations to study and enjoy. See original description.
Opuntia turbinata produces two types of growth: 1) horizontal-growing and soil-hugging cladodes that create a diffuse pattern, and 2) erect stems that arise from the horizontal stems. Over time the cladodes of the horizontal stems thicken and lignify extensively, and may even become deeply buried in beach sand. The erect stems are composed of smaller cladodes and seldom reach a meter in height–often being 2 ft tall or less. Essentially all of the flowering occurs on the erect stems. In contrast, Opuntia ammophila, which has been confused with Opuntia turbinata, commonly has a discernible central trunk and does not form extensive horizontal growth. (Read more below thumbnails.)
Small shrubs: 30-50 cm in height, sometimes tall, Plant grows no more than 50 cm tall but is usually around 30 cm tall on average.
Cladodes: avocado green, surface shiny, 10-15 cm x (10)20-30 cm, 1-2 cm in thick, shape variable from round or suborbiculate to oval or obovate or sometimes rhomboid, margins rounded or smooth to somewhat serrate, areoles conspicuous typically not raised, leaves to 1 cm then shriveling to 3mm before dehiscence, leaves parallel to surface in direction of distal end of pad.
Glochids: yellow turning brown, later to near black, tightly bundled, to 4-5 mm.
Spines: to 3(4) cm, or lacking, 0-2 per areole, translucent yellow turning dull then to gray or gray-brown
Flowers: yellow, about 6 cm in diameter
Fruit: 3.5 to 5 cm in length, pink or light purple, umbilicus typically concave (can be convex)
Seeds: 4-5 mm diameter, round or inequilateral