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Tree Cholla Opuntia imbricata (Cylindropuntia imbricata)


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Tree Cholla - flower
credit: Matthew Veenker from Los Angeles, USA/CCSA

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Alternate name: Walkingstick Cholla, Candelabra Cactus

Family: Cactaceae, Cactus view all from this family

Description Habit: native perennial tree or shrub; spreading; trunk brown-black, diameter to 10 in (25 cm).
Height: 3-16 ft (1-5 m)
Stem: much branched, succulent, cylindrical, with overlapping segments; joints 4-16 in (10-40 cm) long, 0.75-2 in (18-50 mm) diameter.
Leaf: spine, very sharp, barbed, red or tan to silvery-white, to 1.2 in (3 cm) long; clustered 10-15 or more per areole.
Flower: abundant, dark pink to magenta-red (rarely apricot to yellow-green), 2-3 in (50-75 mm) wide.
Fruit: barrel-shaped berry, yellow-green becoming brown, to 2 in (50 mm) long, 1.6 in (40 mm) diameter, persistent for a year or more.

Warning These cacti have sharp spines as well as tiny barbed hairs called glochids that can be difficult to remove from the skin.

Flower April to August.

Flower May - June

Habitat Deserts, grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, hills, plains, Chihuahuan desert scrub with lechuguilla and sotol, rocky limestone slopes, flats, ridges; to 7500 ft (2300 m); also grown as an ornamental.

Range Arizona to Texas, north to Colorado and Kansas.

Discussion Also known as walking stick cholla, cane cholla, giant tree cholla, cholla, chainlink cactus, candelabrum cactus, cane cactus, coyonostyle, coyote candles, etc. Two varieties are recognized. Protected in Arizona.

Comments Slow grower but eventually reaches tree size, with a woody stem.

Exposure Preference Sun.

Native Distribution W. Kansas & Colorado, s. to Mexico

Site Preference Mesas; deserts

Soil Preference Sandy or gravelly soils.