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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Opuntia basilaris 'whitneyana'

I'm using name Opuntia whitneyana here for the plants that were described by E.M.Baxter in his 1935 book "California Cactus" as growing in Alabama hills area in Owens valley. The pictured pad is of a plant from northernmost known locality of O. whitneyana, where they grow on volcanic pumice, and differ from the more common form by brown color of glochids.
In cultivation, if grown protected from rain, these plants develop white waxy coating on younger cladodes (pads), getting even more unusual and decorative appearance. Plants bloom with silky light-pink flowers, somewhat different in shape than flowers of common O. basilars. Overall it is a nice if a bit large for pot culture plant, virtually nonexistent in cultivation.
The little droplets hanging of areoles is sugary secretion that is produced to attract ants, as a protection against pests.

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