by Owen Davis

Opuntia versicolor UofAz 2153

Opuntia versicolor UofAz

Cylindropuntia (cholla) pollen is large 30 - 50 µm and fenestrate. It can be distinguished from the Platyopuntia (now "Opuntia") by its psilate (vs. reticulate) sculpturing, its smaller size, and its generally spherical (vs. polygonal) outline. The genus Grusonia (club chollas) also has this pollen type (vs. Cylindropunta type).

Opuntia (cholla)

Pollen light micrograph:
Large (30 - 50 µm) fenestrate grains with psilate (scabrate, SEM) sculpturing. Large, clumped collumelae are visible between the fenestrae. The fenestrae are generally round, with sculpturing elements on their floors, which are very thin and often ruptured. In plan view, the fenestrae form a "triangular" pattern (O. bigelovii and fulgida, below are flattened grains in glycerine preps [Cushing effect]).

Opuntia acanthocarpa UofAz 1469

Opuntia bigelovii UofAz 1209

Opuntia echinocarpa UofAz 1964

Opuntia fulgida UofAz 1208

Opuntia ramosissima UofAz 617

Opuntia thurberi UofAz 1003

Pollen scanning electron micrograph (SEM)
Small (<1 µm) evenly-spaced scabrae are visible over the thin, psilate tectum.

Production and Dispersal:
Chollas are pollinated by various insects, and thus have low pollen production and poor dispersal. Cylindropuntia is ocasionally found in aquatic sediment, and is very common in packrat middens.

Good, the walls are thick.

Fossil Occurrence:
Late Quaternary.

  • Pinkava, D.J. 1999.
    Cactaceae Cactus Family Part Three Cylindropuntia (Engelm) Knuth chollas. Journal Arizona Nevada Academy Science 23: 32-47.

Owen Davis 12/01