Opuntia atrispina is a hardy Prickly Pear first collected and described by David Griffiths in 1908 in the remote Devils River area in southwest Texas not far from where it empties into Lake Amistad and the Rio Grande. Its natural range extends northwest across the Pecos River to Langtry and southeast through the Texas Hill Country to Uvalde. It also occurs across the Rio Grande in Coahuila. Opuntia atrispina is a densely branching Prickly Pear growing to about 1 metre across and about the same in height, often a little less. Mature plants develop spines that are dark at their bases and abruptly change to a lighter or yellow shade at their midpoint. The flowers too are unusual in that they open pale-yellow or creamy-yellow and then as they develop they change to pinkish-salmon, pale rose or pale-orange. Opuntia atrispina can therefore have several different coloured flowers on the same plant, all at varying stages of development.
Like all Opuntias from Texas, Opuntia atrispina likes a gritty alkaline substrate that drains freely. Plant it in a sunny south-facing gravel bed, ideally one that is raised or on a steep incline that will help to keep it well-drained during the winter.
Opuntia atrispina is a tough plant capable of withstanding prolonged drought as well as a huge thermal gradient. It is hardy down to about -15C if kept dry in the winter months. As this is rarely possible in the wet UK winter, a more cautious -10C should be considered its limit. Obviously, any fleece or rain-shelter protection during extended periods of unusually low or extreme sub-zero temperatures will be beneficial.
|Geographical Origin||USA: Texas; Mexico: Coahuila|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Warm sheltered aspect. Well-drained gritty alkaline substrate. Keep dry in winter|
|Eventual Height||1 m|
|Eventual Spread||1 m|
|Hardiness||Hardy down to about -15C if kept perfectly dry - otherwise consider around -10C to be its limit. Fleece in colder weather. Mulch heavily with grit or gravel.|
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