Texas prickly pear often grows to 5 feet tall. It may be erect or spreading, with a more or less definite trunk. The pads are green to blue-green, round to oval, 410 inches long. The tubercles are 1 1/22 1/2 inches apart. The 16 spines are yellow, which distinguishes this species from O. phaeacantha varieties. One spine is longer than the rest, about 4 1/2 inches. Occasionally a plant is spineless. The flowers, 25 inches across, are often crowded on the edge of the pad. They have several greenish-yellow sepals. Petals vary from yellow to yellow-orange to red, often with the whole range of colors on one plant. Flowers have 1 pistil and many yellow stamens. The fruit is a prickly pear, maturing purple, very seedy.
The species of this plant is named for George Engelmann (1809-1884) who was born in Germany and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, as a young man. He was a physician and botanist, describing especially North American Abies (Firs), Agaves, Cactus (for which he described more than 108 species), Cuscuta (Dodder), Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family), Juncus (Rushes), Juniperus (Cedar), Pinus (Pines), Vitis (Grapes), and Yuccas. When he died much of his collection went to Missouri Botanical Garden.
This variety is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. In 1834 Lindheimer immigrated to the United States as a political refugee. He spent from 1843-1852 collecting specimens in Texas. In 1844 he settled in New Braunfels, Texas, and was granted land on the banks of the Comal River, where he continued his plant collecting and attempted to establish a botanical garden. He shared his findings with many others who shared his interest in botany, including Ferdinand von Roemer and Adolph Scheele. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. In addition his name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. He is buried in New Braunfels. His house, on Comal Street in New Braunfels, is now a museum.
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