Summary details for Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis

Cow's tongue cactus

Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis

Common names: Cow's tongue cactus, Cow tongue prickly pear

Origin: Texas

Description

Erect to semi-erect succulent shrub up to 1.5 m or more high. Cladodes elongate-lanceolate (long tongue-shaped, can become over 1 m long), often curved to one side, smooth, often waxy-looking. Cushions at base of spines dark greyish, each usually carrying 2 to 5 long, flattened spines that are red-brown at the base becoming straw-coloured towards the tips, and numerous, densely packed, shorter yellow-orange glochidia (stiff bristles) around the base of the spines. The glochidia are particularly dense on the edges of the cladodes. Flowers yellow, rarely red; stamens close together when touched. Fruit fleshy, egg-shaped, green becoming red to purple when ripe, almost spineless, cushions with short glochidia/bristles; pulp purple when ripe; seeds flat, tan to greyish.

Discussion

This dangerously invasive species can form dense, tall stands. 

Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis
Opuntia engelmannii var. linguiformis © Photo: Coleen Mannheimer