I grew this paddle shaped cactus tree from just three paddles which a neighbor had pitched into my ditch. It was just one base paddle and two upright palms. I believe it is a Prickly Pear variety but not sure which so it's some kind of Opuntia.
No long needles.
Occasional fine needle picked up if handling the paddles.
Survives the heat and cold here on the Gulf side of Central Florida.
As an aside - what's the justification for separating Nopalea from Opuntia? Different texts differ in whether they accept the split or not, but I can't find any giving any explanation for why or why not.
Nopalea, I believe, is a recent re-separation from Opuntia, even though they are both still in the Opuntioideae subfamily.
What differentiated the Nopalea is the Time period in which they bloom, and the structure of the flower mainly. There are other differences too.
There was an Article in the Desert Botanical Gardens magazine "The Sonoran Quarterly" (Summer June 2006 - Volume 60 No. 2) which showed the results of a major study of Nopalea's compared to the Opuntia genus. This is the only place I've seen the feild study information. Apparently the separation is being implemented now and is probably in a more recent publication although I don't know which one. But I suspect that the study has been submitted to the ICSG (International Cactaceae Systematics Group) which is the leading authority on the family, but I don't know that for sure.
Why was it changed in the PlantFiles to "Nopalea"? I didn't submit a report about it, someone else must have more information.
I was not aware of this division of Opuntia; it apparently happened without molecular genetic work. Here is a more recent examination of the subfamily:
International Journal of Plant Sciences > Vol. 170, No. 1, January 2009 'Phylogeny of Opuntioideae (Cactaceae)'
MP Griffith JM Porter
I was not able to access this, which may be relevant:
'Taxonomic Revision & Phylogeny of Nopalea (Cactaceae: Opuntioideae)
R Puente-Martinez, et al.
2002 Proceedings of some symposium in Baja California
I managed to track down a full pdf of the article I mentioned in my edit; it seems that Nopalea was split out as it has hummingbird-pollinated flowers, rather than insect-pollinated, but that genetic analysis has shown it is embedded within the rest of Opuntia so the genus can't be maintained. Adapting to new pollinators is only a very minor mutation, not as significant as was once thought.
This looks very much like a type of Prickly Pear known locally as 'Autograph Cactus'. If it is the same, autographs or messages can be written on the leaves, using any not-too-sharp pointed object. Marks made form scarring, which is permanent.
[quote="relbah48"]This looks very much like a type of Prickly Pear known locally as 'Autograph Cactus'. If it is the same, autographs or messages can be written on the leaves, using any not-too-sharp pointed object. Marks made form scarring, which is permanent.[/quote]