NIPPLE CACTUS
File Size: 127 KB
 
Escobaria missouriensis   (Sweet ) D.R. Hunt
[=Coryphantha missouriensis  (Sweet ) Britton & Rose]
Lincoln County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 1-4 inches
Family: Cactaceae - Cactus Family
Flowering Period:   May, June
Stems: Spherical, dark green, single or several in cluster, covered with nipple-like projections called "tubercles", 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, grooved on upper side, arranged in several spiral rows; round "areoles" at tubercle tips; central spines 0-4, to 1/2 inch long, often absent; radial spines 10-20, grayish; spines with clumps of minute barbed hairs at bases.
Leaves: Absent.
Inflorescences: 1 to several flowers on new growth of current season, at base of upper side of tubercles.
Flowers: Funnel-shaped, 1 to 2 inches tall, about 1 inch wide; perianth parts petal-like, in several rows, greenish to pale yellowish, sometimes tinged pink below; tips sharply pointed; stamens numerous, anthers yellow; stigmas 2-5, short.
Fruits: Berries, fleshy, nearly spherical, 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter, red when mature; seeds tiny, pitted, black.
Habitat: Dry, rocky prairies, and shallow uplands, most abundant on limestone soils.
Distribution: Central 3/5 of Kansas.
Uses: Some Great Plains tribes utilized the ripe fruits as food. The Comanche were said to have used the spines as instruments to punish unfaithful wives.
Comments: Succulent.

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