Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata var. imbricata)

Description: Tree cholla grows tall and upright, sometimes bushy but usually treelike, 3-8 ft. in height. The main trunk in round and can reach 3-4 in. in diameter with age. The spiny stems are jointed and cylindrical. Large, showy flowers open out wide and are reddish-purple in color. Fruits ripen from green to rose to yellow.

This is the first bush-like or tree-like Cholla (pronounced CHOY-yah) encountered when traveling from the East to the Southwest. Near the Rio Grande other species appear, and in Arizona there are many, making identification more difficult. Once the flesh has weathered away, their woody stems are hollow, with many holes, and are popular souvenirs.

Family: Cactaceae

Synonym(s): Cane cactus, Cholla, Teddy-bear cholla, Tree cholla, Walkingstick cholla, Cereus imbricatus, Opuntia arborescens, Opuntia imbricata, Opuntia imbricata var. arborescens, Opuntia imbricata var. imbricata, Opuntia imbricata var. vexans


Duration: Perennial

Habit: Cactus/Succulent

Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Color: Red, Pink

Bloom Time: May, Jun

Water Use: Low

Light Requirements: Sun

Soil Moisture: Dry

Bloom Notes: Pronounced choy-ya. Slow grower but eventually gets shrubby or tree-shaped. Woody stems appear braided and the yellow fruit are showy. Dead stems have interesting skeletons once the soft tissue has decomposed away. These are often used as souvenirs. Provide good drainage. Caution: has sharp spines.

Missing Images: Plant, Close-Up, Fruit-Seed

Data Completeness: Complete

ATTRIBUTION: All of the Texas Wildflower images in this post are copyrighted and are the exclusive property of Terry B. Kahler. Reproduction without explisit written consent is prohibited. Some of the information contained in this section was taken from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website and is being used under their terms of use. Redistribution from this site is prohibited. Additional information contained in this section was taken from the USDA website including the USDA code.

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