CHOLLA

FAMILY: Cactaceae | GENUS: Cylindropuntia

TYPE
  • Cactus
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Drought Tolerant
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11

Plant Details

Native to the desert Southwest, including Texas, the chollas are garden-worthy plants for anyone trying to minimize water use in a dry landscape. Like their Opuntia relatives, they have sections. Unlike the flat Opuntia, these are cylindrical, as their name suggests. In a garden they are sculptural and offer showy flowers and fruit. Remarkably cold hardy and drought tolerant.

chain-link cactus, walking-stick cholla

cylindropuntia imbricata (Opuntia imbricata)

  • Native from Colorado to Mexico.
  • Treelike cactus with short trunk and branching, cylindrical stems; very slow growing, eventually reaching 36 feet (sometimes as much as 10 feet.) tall.
  • Never plant it near walkways or in gardens where children play; it has many sharp, inch-long spines as well as small, hairlike prickles that are more painful when they stick you (and harder to remove).
  • Magenta, 2- to 3 inches blossoms in early summer; yellow, 112 inches-long fruits.
  • Very cold hardy.

desert christmas cactus, christmas cholla, pencil cactus, tasajillo

cylindropuntia leptocaulis (Opuntia leptocaulis)

  • Native to Texas and desert Southwest.
  • To 2-3 feet (rarely to 6 feet.) high and equally wide.
  • Joints are 1-12 inches long, inches thick, and have 1- to 2 inches-long spines.
  • Spring flowers, to inches across, are green to yellow.
  • Fleshy fruits about the size and shape of olives mature from green to red, usually around Christmastime and hang on all winter.
  • Very striking cold-hardy species.

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