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Cholla, Walking Stick Cholla, Cane Cholla, Tree Cholla, Tree Cactus, Candalabrum Cactus, Devils Rope, Coyote Prickly Pear, Tuna Juell, Velas de Coyote
Opuntia imbricata (Cylindropuntia imbricata)


Cholla is one of our most well known and widespread cacti, ranging throughout the Trans-Pecos into New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, and southwest through northern Mexico, preferring gravelly and sandy soils, desert and grassland from an elevation of 1800 to 6000 feet in Texas. This is a tree-like cactus with a short, woody trunk and a number of upright candalabra-like branches. A mature trunk will have a 10 inch diameter. The cylindrical joints measure 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches in diameter and are very noticibly tubercled, that is, covered with small rounded tubers or projections. There are many barbed 3/4- to 1 1/4-inch-long spines which are usually red or pink with dull tan sheaths. Cholla's 3-inch to 4-inch wide flowers are magenta or purplish and are borne at the terminal end of old stems. Its dry fruit starts out green then turns rose and bright yellow, and is also tubercled. Imbricata means overlapping and refers to ridges in the joints. In its native habitat cholla is considered a weedy pest, often infesting rangelands and forming dense thickets after overgrazing, since new plants regenerate easily from fallen joints that form roots. But ornamentally, it is a sculptural highlight in xeric landscapes. When the fleshy tissue is removed from the stems, a hollow cylinder remains with an interesting geometric framework of rhombic holes. These skeletal stems are fashioned into bizarre walking canes and other objects. Occasionally the spines are burned off to feed the not very palatable plants to cattle. Cholla's fruit is used in dye production. In addition to the above listed common names there are at least a dozen other Native American or Spanish mix names for this cactus.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
medium shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: reddish purple

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: green to rose to bright yellow, dry and persistent

Height: 3 to 9 feet

Width: 3 to 4 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: neutral

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6

Additional Comments:

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