Opuntia arenaria SB964
Opuntia arenaria, Dune Prickly Pear is a low, prostrate Opuntia from southcentral New Mexico, western Texas and across the border into Chihuahua down to the Samalayuca Dune Fields. It has small narrow cladodes that tend to root into the substrate as they grow, forming a creeping mat that is often half-buried in the shifting sands of its preferred habitat near the Rio Grande. Like many Opuntiads, the cladodes are loosely attached and often the slightest touch or entanglement with the spines will result in a pad detaching itself from the plant. This is an evolutionary adaptation that enables the plant to hitchhike a lift on a passing animal and be transported to a new location where it will readily root and establish itself as a new plant, a perfect vegetal clone of its parent.
Opuntia arenaria has become increasingly threatened in its natural habitat, particularly in New Mexico where habitat loss, urbanisation and off-road vehicles have all contributed to a thinning of the population and its conservation status is now considered to be imperiled.
The seed for these clones was originally collected by Steve Brack in El Paso County, Texas.
The fragile nature of Opuntia arenaria inevitably means that some cladodes may detach themselves during transit. Please treat this as a bonus rather than a cause to complain and root any loose pads in a free-draining mix and consider them to be free extra plants.
|Synonyms||Opuntia polyacantha var. arenaria, Opuntia polyacantha subsp. arenaria|
|Geographical Origin||USA: New Mexico, Texas; Mexico: Chihuahua|
|Cultivation||Sandy, gritty, well-drained substrate. Full sun. Requires little water or cultivation. Water only in the warmer months from March through to early October. No water at all during the winter|
|Hardiness||Hardy in the UK providing it is kept dry. Very free-draining substrate is essential to avoid constantly wet roots in the winter|
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