Cactaceae (Cactus Family)
Fleshy, large, spreadingly-branched shrub to 2 m. high; joints elliptic
to obovate to nearly round, to 33 cm. long, 23 cm. wide, slightly glaucous;
areoles elliptic, 2-4 cm. apart, containing a tuft of short brown glochids and
2-5 spines, the margins having the closest areole spacing; spines straight,
flattened, rigid, unequal, deflexed, to 2.5 cm. long, newer spines yellow, older light brown to gray, spines missing from lowest areoles of
some joints; lvs. awl-shaped, 10 mm. long, early deciduous; fls. yellow, 6-7 cm.
broad; filaments yellow; style pink or white, stigma green; fr. obovate, 5-7 cm.
long, bearing glochids, the umbilicus depressed, red-purple throughout.
Coastal Sage Scrub, V. Grassland, etc. below 1000 ft. mostly fairly near
the coast from Ventura Co. s. Catalina Id. (Munz, Flora
So. Calif. 316).
Locally the species covers a large section of hillside along the path
from 23rd St. to Mariners Dr. Blooms
April-May. (my comments).
N.L., opuntia, name of a
cactus, said to be derived from Greek, Opous, genit. Opountos, a
town in Greece, where a cactus-like plant "herba Opuntia" grew.
Latin, demissus, let down,
fallen. (Jaeger 176, 78).
Latin, demissum, to lower, put down or let down. Hor. tunica demissa,
with tunica being a jacket or coating.
(Simpson 177, 618). Trans.,
a coating or membrane that falls off? Possibly
referring to the missing spines on some of the joints?
(my comment). John Johnson
speculates that the author was implying that the species is derived from or sent
down from the original species as a hybrid form.
Very common on about 100 yards of bluff-side described above.
This species has taken over the area and O.
littoralis, the usual common form on these bluffs, is not evident except in
the transition zone between the two species. (my comments).
The cacti are exclusively American plants. Although we find them scattered over much of the world today,
those outside America have been carried about and planted since the first
European saw a cactus when he disembarked with Columbus at Hispaniola.
They range all the way from Ecuador south into Patagonia and north into
central Canada. They are on most of
the Caribbean islands; and in the Galapagos Islands they got as far from the
continent as 600 miles, but no farther. (Dawson 7).
Abrams, Vol. III 152, lists O.
demissa as another name for O.
occidentalis; Munz, Flora So Calif.
318 lists O. occidentalis
separately and states on page 316 that O.
demissa is related to O. ficus-indica. The 1993 Jepson Manual does not
list O. demissa, however, in the description of O. oricola, there is a statement that O. demissa could be a hybrid with O. oricola as one parent. (Hickman,
Ed. 455). Roberts
in his 1998 edition of A Checklist Of The Vascular Plants of Orange
County California, lists Opuntia demissa as a native while Munz does
Abrams, Vol. III 150; Munz, Flora
So. Calif. 316.
July-Oct 91 # 23,24,29A; May-July 92 #10; May-Aug 94 # 12.
Identity: by John Johnson.
First Found: October 1991.
Computer Ref: Plant Data 438.
No plant specimen.
Last edit 6/9/05.
May Photo May Photo