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Cylindropuntia spinosior (Walkingstick cactus)
Brundage, Stephanie

Cylindropuntia spinosior

Cylindropuntia spinosior (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth

Walkingstick Cactus, Cane Cholla

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Opuntia spinosior, Opuntia whipplei var. spinosior

USDA Symbol: CYSP8

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Cane cholla has a similar appearance to the buckhorn and staghorn varieties, and overlaps in range, but has generally thicker (one inch or more) stems that branch more evenly (at right angles) from more widely separated joints, and tend to droop downwards. Segments have varying lengths between 2 and 20 inches, covered in large, closely spaced tubercles and clusters of 6 to 18 short, whitish spines. The uniform spination makes the plant look smooth and fuzzy from a distance. Like some other cholla, plants turn purple in winter or during dry periods, and the stems become thinner. The bright purple flowers appear during the summer, followed by knobbly, spineless yellow-green fruit which stay on the plant until the following spring.

Cylindropuntia spinosior is common within its relatively limited range, which extends into north Mexico, and to higher elevations that most other cacti (over 6,000 feet), due to good frost tolerance. The cactus forms hybrids with several other species including Cylindropuntia fulgida (jumping cholla), for which the resulting plant is Cylindropuntia x kelvinensis.

Description provided courtesy of The American Southwest.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Fruit: Spineless yellow-green fruit which stay on the plant until the following spring.
Size Class: 1-3 ft. , 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Flowers rose to reddish purple, bronze-purple, or yellow, sometimes pale greenish yellow or whitish.


Native Distribution: Central and southeast Arizona, west New Mexico.
Native Habitat: Grassland, desert plains, pinyon/juniper woods.


Use Ornamental: The dead, skeletal, cylindrical canes are attractive, so souvenirs such as canes and lamp bases are often made from them.
Use Other: The straight, woody limbs of dead plants have an attractive pattern of holes, and are used to make walking sticks and other items.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Web Reference

Webref 15 - The American Southwest (1994) John Crossley

Additional resources

USDA: Find Cylindropuntia spinosior in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Cylindropuntia spinosior in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Cylindropuntia spinosior


Record Modified: 2017-08-08
Research By: DEW

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