Wednesday, September 12, 2007
'Maverick' Is Its Name
This interesting Opuntia species with marbled cream and green pads with tinges of pink is probably Opuntia monacantha variegata V. montrosa. Sometimes sold as O. vulgaris ‘Maverick’, the cactus is popular as a novelty because of its coloring and seeming lack of spines. Don’t be fooled. It does have both spines and glochids. The spines are sparse, but what few it has are long and sharp and the glochids are just as numerous as with other Opuntia. They are almost transparent, but they are there.
The pads on the O. monacantha are not uniform in shape or color. Some pads are mostly cream colored while others have only small blotches of cream. The pads have a definite pinkish tinge, which is quite defined when the pads are young. All the pads are somewhat elongated, but no two are the same.
I’ll soon have to repot these three. They have grown faster than I expected, and they need a larger home. I’m tempted to try one in my garden, but this is not the climate for them. O. monacantha is native to South American tropical forests. This species is common in the gulf region of the United States from Louisiana to Florida. The species, considered invasive in Madagascar, was introduced there centuries ago as a barrier plant that then got out of control.
The common name of O. monacantha is Joseph’s Coat. The reason is obvious. Its other common name is Irish Mittens. I have no idea why.