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Tables of Contents for Cactuses of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend and the Chihuahuan Desert
Meet the Cactus Family
The Genus Ariocarpus LIVING ROCK CACTUSES Thick fleshy stems underground, flattened top even with ground surface; up to about 5 inches in diameter. Triangular tubercles are warty and fissured. No areoles; no spines. Flowers and fruits on new growth near tip of stem.
The Genus Coryphantha TOPFLOWER CACTUSES Stems solitary or branched, sometimes forming clumps, up to about 8 inches long. Spines usually straight, up to about 2 inches long. Flowers and fruits on new growth at tips of stems. Fruits fleshy at maturity
The Genus Echinocactus STOUT-SPINED CACTUSES The Big Bend species have solitary globose to hemispherical stems with prominent ribs and stout, curved spines. Flowers are large and showy and occur near the growing tips of stems.
The Genus Echinocereus HEDGEHOG CACTUSES Cylindrical stems may be solitary or profusely branched, forming dense clusters or mounds. The tubercles are on the 5 to 12 ribs. The stem surface is obscured by the dense covering of spines. Flowers are usually large and showy. Flowers and fruits occur well below tips of stems.
The Genus Echinomastus PINEAPPLE CACTUSES Egg-shaped stems to about 6 inches long. Dense spines obscure stem surfaces. Flowers usually white to light pink with traces of tan or green.
The Genus Epithelantha BUTTON CACTUSES Tiny globular to cylindroid stems up to about 1 inch in diameter, rarely to 2 inches long. Minute whitish spines completely obscure stem surface. Tiny flowers occur on tip of stems. Mature fruits are bright red.
The Genus Ferocactus BARREL CACTUSES The usually solitary columnar stems have several prominent ribs. Flowers and fruits occur near tips of stems. The lone Big Bend species grows to about a foot tall and has prominent tubercles and very long, flexible hooked spines.
The Genus Glandulicactus FISHHOOK CACTUSES Stems solitary, globose to cylindroid, dark green, up to about 6 inches tall. Conspicuous hooked spines to 4 inches long that tend to point upward and look like blades of dried grass. Flowers and fruits near tips of stems.
The Genus Mammillaria NIPPLE CACTUSES Stems with prominent and distinct tubercles (nipples). Flowers and fruits occur on old growth, below and around growing stem tip.
The Genus Neolloydia LLOYD STOUT-SPINED CACTUSES Stems cylindrical to conical, to about 5 inches long, commonly in branched clumps, sometimes solitary. The magenta flowers and the fruits are on new growth near tips of stems.
The Genus Opuntia CHOLLAS AND PRICKLYPEARS Stems composed of chains of connected joints; those with round cylindrical joints are chollas; those with flattened "pads" are pricklypears. Areoles also contain tiny hairlike barbed spines called glochids
The Genus Thelocactus TEXAS NIPPLE CACTUSES Ovoid stems up to 8 inches tall. Prominent tubercles (nipples) merge into about 8 indistinct ribs. Spines are long, flexible, and reddish. Spectacular large, satiny, fuchsia flowers have scarlet throats.
Other Possibilities Cactuses that were reported long ago but have not been seen in recent years, or those that may be found in Big Bend National Park but have not yet been observed.