Opuntia sanguinicola is a tough, hardy and very handsome Opuntia from Texas with very attractive rounded cladodes, relatively few spines and reddish-brown glochids that characteristically point up from the areoles in upright compact tufts. Opuntia sanguinicola is a low sprawling prickly pear but its cladodes tend to remain vertical as they spread unlike Opuntia humifusa or Opuntia pottsii where the cladodes will tend to lay flat on the ground. Hardy in the UK winter providing it has perfect drainage and ideally kept as dry as possible, Opuntia sanguinicola is another extraordinary outdoors cactus to add to your growing xerophyte collection.
It is not always easy to distinguish between Opuntia species but Opuntia sanguinicola - for those with a relatively keen eye - is readily identifiable. It is all the more surprising therefore that it doesn't actually exist as a recognised taxonomic species and in a genus beset by natural hybrids, look-alikes, synonyms, ecogeographical escapees, sympatric speciation and taxonomic chaos it is yet one more opaque layer of nomenclature muddle. To add to the general confusion there is a similarly-named Opuntia sanguinocula which is classed as an unresolved species.
Notwithstanding all this befuddled taxonomy, Opuntia sanguinicola is a desirable and distinct plant and indeed by owning it you may well be contributing to its ex-situ survival and hopefully future generations of botanists will untangle this thorny taxonomic mess.
|Geographical Origin||USA: Texas|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Warm sheltered aspect. Well-drained gritty alkaline substrate with added limestone. Keep perfectly dry in winter|
|Eventual Spread||2-3 m|
|Hardiness||Hardy down to at least -15C if given free-draining substrate and kept dry in winter|
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