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Pony Tail Opuntia

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Pony Tail Opuntia

Postby hegar » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:57 am

Hello everyone,
yesterday I received two more stem segments (cladodes) of the famous hairy Opuntia, a hybrid that does not seem to have any name or even known parentage.
These pads are definitely different from those I have received in the past. They are a little darker green and quite a bit thicker and larger than those previously examined.
Just like the other "hairy Opuntias" though, they do not have any spines or glochids. The wool on the other hand is even more pronounced and arranged in a thick pony-tail like fashion. I did place a ruler with a scale in inches next to the pads. As you can see, the larger segment is over 20 inches long.
Has anyone figured out in the meantime what the parentage of these hybrid plants is?

Harald


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Postby daiv » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:29 am

Wow! Those are monsters! I sure would like to see the plant these are taken from. I suppose when you guys confiscate them you can't really find out where they came from. As often as they come up, one wonders if there is a whole population of these somewhere down there. Perhaps these are not just some obscure hybrid, but actually a new species!

It would really be fun if that could be introduced into cultivation!
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Postby pieter » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:17 pm

Interesting plant indeed! As far as I know, only the south-american genus Austrocylindropuntia has those hairs and lack glochids. But then, these do not have cladodes, but globular or cylindrical stems. Perhaps it's a hybrid of A. vestita with a spineless, flat-stemmed North-american Opuntia such as O. ficus-indica?
It does look very beautiful indeed.
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Postby peterb » Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:40 pm

wow, interesting. Maybe send some photos to Dave Ferguson? See what he thinks. These are very unusual cladodes for sure.

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Postby hegar » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:00 pm

Hello Peter,
I did indeed send Dave Ferguson not only digital images, but even a plant about two to three years ago. He told me, that he would need to see the flower and fruit to even have an educated guess at the parentage of the plant (most likely a hybrid).
He also mentioned, that the cactus, planted outdoors in Albuquerque at the Botanical Garden/Zoological Garden, did suffer some frost damage, which would indicate, that genetically at least one of the parents is not overly frost hardy.
I shall go ahead and send him these images and perhaps also one of these two cladodes, so he can try to learn more about the plant.
Somebody in Mexico, however, must know exactly how to produce these plants, but I have yet to hear about the mystery of achieving this.

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Re: Pony Tail Opuntia

Postby phil_SK » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:03 pm

hegar wrote:Hello everyone,
yesterday I received two more stem segments (cladodes) of the famous hairy Opuntia, a hybrid that does not seem to have any name or even known parentage.
These pads are definitely different from those I have received in the past. They are a little darker green and quite a bit thicker and larger than those previously examined.


So did you grow these on? What does the more mature plant look like? What do the growing cladodes look like? How is it famous? - I've never heard or seen it before and googling 'pony tail opuntia' doesn't return much.

Have you tried tracing the source of this plant via your supplier?

hegar wrote:Just like the other "hairy Opuntias" though, they do not have any spines or glochids.


If you mean the Austrocylindropuntia they have plenty of spines and glochids! Is it definitely an Opuntia??
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Postby John C » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:50 am

What an interesting plant! How neat! 8)
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Postby hegar » Sat Jan 15, 2011 4:25 am

Hello Phil,
I was just joking when I wrote "famous hairy Opuntia", because just the opposite is the case. This plant does not seem to be known by many people. To the forum members however, it is well known, ever since I posted an image of it on cactiguide in order to have it identified. That was in 2005 or around that time. Also, I do not know of anyone that has ever seen this plant in flower. As a matter of fact, the opuntioid expert Dave Ferguson does not know, what parent plants were used to create this hybrid.
I had shipped a cladode to him in 2007 and it has yet to bloom, but it is still growing. So your question about the mature plant cannot be answered by me. The cladodes of this plant are elongate elliptical and do produce the same hairy areoles as the older stem sections. For lack of a better name I did choose the term "Pony Tail Opuntia". It is not present in Google, because it is not acceptable and/or established as a common name.
There is no known source or supplier. All I know is, that these pads are brought from Mexico. The grower (hybridizer) is unknown.
This plant is definitely a cactus that falls into the Opuntia genus. Mr. Ferguson doubts, however, that it could be a hybrid produced by cross breeding an Austrocylidropuntia and a real Opuntia, because they are very distantly related and thus most likely incompatible. He told me today, that he cannot get distantly related species with flat joints to hybridize.
I had hoped, that someone from Mexico would come forward and give us some more information about this unusual prickly pear cactus member.

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Postby bruno » Sat Jan 15, 2011 11:02 am

This is an interesting plant Harald, thanks for posting :)
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Postby A. Dean Stock » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:54 am

I seriously doubt that the plant is actually an Opuntia, but may belong to a related genus. To identify it would require flower and fruit but a chromosome count would also help. DNA analysis would be the final "key" to identification. I suggest that you send a sample to someone that is academically qualified to make a determination on it such as Dr. Donald Pinkava at Arizona State Univ. You could also send it to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix where Dr. Pinkava could also be asked to look at it. The plant would have to be grown for at least one season for determination unless Dr. Pinkava is already familiar with it.
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hmm

Postby promethean_spark » Sun Jan 16, 2011 7:32 am

Could it be a chimera?
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Postby hegar » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:58 pm

Hello Dean,
thank you for giving me the name of a cactus expert. I have already checked the Arizona State University directory and found out, that Dr. Pinkava is a professor emeritus of that institution. I do intend to contact him using the e-mail address given and perhaps the phone number, if the e-mail does not yield any results.
Because Dr. Pinkava is already retired, I am not sure, if he or someone of his former department will actually do a DNA analysis. However, he might have already done one on this plant some time ago.
For my professional work I do not need to know the exact scientific name - if there is one at this time - of the parental heritage. There is only a curiosity factor involved in finding out, if this is indeed a true Opuntia sp. or only a plant related to that genus.

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