Anyone have an interest in O. polyacatha?

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Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04
Anyone have an interest in O. polyacatha?

Just wondering if anyone is interested in Opuntia polyacantha and all it's many derivations and forms.

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Although I like to see Opuntias and photos in other people's gardens, I don't grow any myself.  I like cactus, but prefer to shy away from those with "inescapable" glochids.  The exception would be if I could find a tree form (ex: O. imbricata) cold hardy enough for me.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

The reason I ask this question is that a lot of rock gardening people don't like to deal with the glochids.
And I didn't want to bore the members since O. polyacantha has so many varieties and the distinctions between them, are very confusing.

Of all the cylindropuntias, C. imbricata is the hardiest, but in your climate it would be very marginal. I wish you luck in finding a clone that will grow in your area. The good thing is, it only takes a small branch cutting to get a start going.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

penstemon
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-06-24

I never met an opuntia I didn't like, but I transplanted all (or almost all) of my polyacanthas to the front yard next door, because they take up so much room and there was plenty of room next door (and my neighbor likes cactus). And because I have the habit of putting my hands on them when I'm weeding in my front yard.
There aren't any forms of O. polyacantha that I know of that are as wicked as O. rufida, which fortunately proved not to be hardy in the place where I put it, though I recently got a dwarf form of O. basilaris that's nothing but glochids. It's staying in a pot outdoors this winter.
Now, cylindropuntias, different story. There is a forest of them in the front yard. And a large collection in the back. I still manage to walk backwards into one every so often.

Bob

Bob

extreme western edge of Denver, Colorado; elevation 1705.6 meters, average annual precipitation 30cm; refuses to look at thermometer if it threatens to go below -17C

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Bob
It's good to hear that you like Opuntias. They do indeed like a bit of space if allowed to do their thing unchecked. I trim all my patches to keep them within bounds and out of the paths. That usually means I have plenty of pads to share.
O. polyacantha has a very wide distribution across central and western North America with several varieties recognized. There are a lot of unrecognized local forms with names that are not considered valid or in dispute at this time.
In general O. polyacantha is a highly adaptable species across it's range and hybridizes readily with several other Opuntia species. Due to it's genetic flexability, there is a wide range of physical characteristics within the complex. The differant forms grow as low spreading mounds. Flower colors are normally in a range of intensities, in the colors pink or yellow. Spine counts, color, thickness, length and density vary widely across it's range. The fruits are always dry when ripe.

I started growing O. polyacantha about thirty years ago with plants collected from The northern Great Plains.
The variety found there is Opuntia polyacantha var.  polyacantha. This is one of the hardiest cacti found in North America and can handle frigid winter temperatures.
As you will see from the photos there is a range of yellow to cream colors displayed by the clones I grow. The red stamen filaments setting off the green stigma and medium length spines seem to be consistant in this Great Plains native.

This clone was collected in the Badlands of South Dakota.

                           

This one from Emmons county North Dakota.

                           

This one is a selection that has been given the name 'Crystal Tide'

                           

And here is an over view of the general appearance of this variety.

                           

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

A Prickly Pear was the very first plant I started growing as a boy. I got a pad from someone (have forgotten who) and it eventually grew to 2m in a pot at home. I still have a piece of it but a more mangable size.
I dream of trying some in the garden but I think it is too wet here in winter :-\  Your plants are beautiful, John ;)

When I visited Galapagos I remember well the tall Opuntia trees there. A very special forest. Sorry, no pictures as all are on slides but it looked like this:

http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com/Galapagos%20Islands/Day%202/slide...

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

This species is more tolerant of winter moisture than most. It shrivels, losing half it's volume, as the days grow short in the fall, preparing for winter. In the winter, at freeze up, it is dormant and not affected by the frozen moisture. I have seen this variety survive many windy -20f > spells with just a light blanket of snow. I think being inbedded in ice for long periods causes the most damage but even then I have never lost the whole plant. I don't know if it would bloom well for you, it likes some late spring heat to flower well.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

AmyO
AmyO's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-06

Hoy wrote:

When I visited Galapagos I remember well the tall Opuntia trees there. A very special forest. Sorry, no pictures as all are on slides but it looked like this:

http://www.mountainsoftravelphotos.com/Galapagos%20Islands/Day%202/slide...

Holy Cow! I never imagined they could grow like that!  :o
I just planted my first O. humfusa this year in a new & very small rock garden. Hopefully it will bloom at some point. I am always amazed at the way the pads shrivel up and droop to the ground in winter, looking like they are dead. But come spring..up they pop! So cool!!

Amy Olmsted
Hubbardton, VT, Zone 4

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Weiser wrote:

...I think being inbedded in ice for long periods causes the most damage...

That is interesting.  One year, during a brief January thaw, the area where I had stored my potted Coryphantha (Escobaria) vivipara became a "lake" (unbeknownst to me).  It then froze for the remainder of the winter, and the entire pots and plants were encased in solid ice.  I could hardly believe my eyes when normal growth and flowering commenced the following spring and summer.

--------------

Trond, those Galapagos Opuntia trunks are massive!!!

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

DesertZone
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-08-20

I love them, but I try and stay away from them because they are not good for the reptiles in my garden.  My lizards run into the spines. :-\

Dry garden, little irrigation, 9" precip

Shoshone Idaho USA. Zone 5b-6a

Hot and dry in the summer, cold and snow in the winter.

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

RickR wrote:

I could hardly believe my eyes when normal growth and flowering commenced the following spring and summer.

I would have been rubbing my eyes in disbelief also. Luck was on your side. :)

DesertZone wrote:

I love them, but I try and stay away from them because they are not good for the reptiles in my garden.  My lizards run into the spines. :-\

I wish they would live in my yard. I'm just too far from the edge of town.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

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