Primary tabs


Opuntia Mill., Gard. Dict. Abr., ed. 4: 974. 1754 sec. Hunt 2016
  • =Terecaulis Berge, Buch der Welt: 91. 1842 syn. sec. Crook & Mottram 1997
  • =Nopalea Salm-Dyck, Cact. Hort. Dyck., ed. 1849: 63-64, 233. 1850 syn. sec. Hunt 2006
  • Nopal Thierry ex Rümpler, Handb. Cacteenk., ed. 2: 929. 1885, nom. inval., syn. sec. ???1,2
  • 1. in syn., without description, 2. Berendsohn, W. G. 2020: Revisions
  • =Opuntia subg. Platopuntia Engelm. in Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 289-290. 1856 syn. sec. IPNI 2000+
  • Platyopuntia (Engelm.) Frič & Schelle ex Kreuz., Verzeichnis Amer. Sukk. Rev. Syst. Kakteen: 42. 1935 syn. sec. Hunt 2016
  • Platyopuntia (Engelm.) F.Ritter, Kakteen Südamerika 1: 31. 1979, nom. inval., syn. sec. Hunt 2016
  • =Ficindica St.-Lag. in Ann. Soc. Bot. Lyon 7: 70. 1880 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
  • =Tunas Lunell in Amer. Midl. Naturalist 4: 479. 1916 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
  • =Chaffeyopuntia Frič & Schelle ex Kreuz., Verzeichnis Amer. Sukk. Rev. Syst. Kakteen: 42. 1935 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
  • =Subulatopuntia Frič & Schelle in Verzeichnis Amer. Sukk. Rev. Syst. Kakteen: 10. 1935 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
  • =Plutonopuntia P.V.Heath in Calyx 6(2): 41. 1999 syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)
  • Cactodendron Bigelow, Expl. Railroad Mississippi Pacific pt. 1-2: 7. 1856, nom. inval., syn. sec. Kew WCVP (2019)3,4
  • 3. no combination made, 4. Berendsohn, W. G. 2021: Revisions


Revised by Carlos Gómez-Hinostrosa, Héctor M. Hernández, Matias Köhler and Lucas C. Majure


Phylogenetics: Opuntia is the second-largest genus of the family Cactaceae. As in all species-rich Cactaceae groups, numerous different generic concepts with a varying number of segregate genera have been suggested for Opuntia. Both, extensive splitting (e.g. Backeberg 1966) or lumping into a broadly defined Opuntia were put forward (Rowley 1958; Benson 1982). The first phylogenetic study by Wallace & Dickie (2002) based on the rpl16 intron found Opuntia in the broad sense to be polyphyletic. For the revised generic classification they presented based on their data, they argued for splitting Opuntia, because otherwise further genera (e.g. Pereskiopsis, Pterocactus) were also nested within Opuntia and merging those would make Opuntia a highly heterogenous assemblage. Therefore Wallace & Dickie suggested reinstating the earlier-proposed Opuntia segregates Austrocylindropuntia, Brasiliopuntia, Consolea, Corynopuntia, Cumulopuntia, Cylindropuntia, Grusonia, Maihueniopsis, Miqueliopuntia, Nopalea, Tephrocactus, and Tunilla. Opuntia s.str. was thus restricted to the taxa with flattened stems and reticulate pollen. This concept was entirely adapted by Hunt (2006), and largely by Nyffeler & Eggli (2010). Griffith & Porter (2009), using data from plastid trnL-F and nuclear ITS, found Opuntia in this restricted sense to additionally include Consolea and Nopalea, the clade including all three genera received 100% support, and both Consolea and Nopalea were also supported as monophyletic with 100%. The tree resolution, however, did not allow an immediate conclusion on the delimitation of these genera. Nopalea used to be separated from Opuntia s.str. because it differs primarily in its hummingbird-syndrome flowers. Nevertheless, it was repeatedly found to be nested in Opuntia (Wallace & Gibson 2002; Griffith & Porter 2009; Bárcenas & al. 2011; Hernández-Hernández & al. 2011). Majure & al. (2012) and Majure & Puente (2014) conclusively showed that Nopalea was deeply nested within Opuntia and merely resulted from a pollinator shift to birds within a more broadly, insect-pollinated clade.A
Although Opuntia s.s. is now well defined, species limits and taxonomy in the group are still problematic, and much systematic work is needed to refine our knowledge of species relationships and how species should be appropriately circumscribed. Majure & al. (2017) suggested that cryptic species exist in the clade, and detailed monographic work will be necessary to properly address this issue across the genus.B

Taxon standing

Category B. The genus is monophyletic based on phylogenetic studies that support the clade based on a sufficiently dense or even complete sampling, or support a monotypic genus as a distinct lineage, but do not provide a new taxonomic treatment at the species level. In many cases, older classical taxonomic synopses or a monographic treatment exist for these genera providing a reliable assessment of the species included.


A. Hernández-Ledesma, P., Berendsohn, W. G., Borsch, T., von Mering, S., Akhani, H., Arias, S., Castañeda-Noa, I., Eggli, U., Eriksson, R., Flores-Olvera, H., Fuentes-Bazán, S., Kadereit, G., Klak, C., Korotkova, N., Nyffeler, R., Ocampo, G. & Ochoterena, H. 2015: A taxonomic backbone for the global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. – Willdenowia 45(3): 281-383
B. Majure, L.C. 2021: Revisions of Cochemiea, Consolea, Coryphantha, Cylindropuntia, Cumarinia, Grusonia, Kroenleinia, Leptocereus, Melocactus, Micropuntia, Opuntia. – In: Korotkova N. & al., Cactaceae at Caryophyllales.org – a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. – Willdenowia 51: 251-270