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Cylindropuntia is a genus of cacti (family Cactaceae), containing species commonly known as chollas, native to northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. They are known for their barbed spines that tenaciously attach to skin, fur, and clothing.

Cylindropuntia kleiniae.jpg
Cylindropuntia kleiniae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Tribe: Cylindropuntieae
Genus: Cylindropuntia
(Engelm.) F.M.Knuth

Stands of cholla are called cholla gardens. Individuals within these colonies often exhibit the same DNA as they were formerly tubercles of an original plant.



Cylindropuntia was formerly treated as a subgenus of Opuntia, but have now been separated based on their cylindrical stems (Opuntia species have flattened stems) and the presence of papery epidermal sheaths on the spines (Opuntia has no sheaths).[1] A few species of mat- or clump-forming opuntioid cacti are currently placed in the genus Grusonia. Collectively, opuntias, chollas, and related plants are sometimes called opuntiads.[2]

The roughly 35 species of Cylindropuntia are native to the southwest and southcentral United States, Mexico, and the West Indies. The Flora of North America recognizes 22 species.[3] Some species have been introduced to South America (Chile, Ecuador, Peru) and South Africa.[3]


As of July 2019, Plants of the World Online accepts the following species:[4]

Scientific name[a] Common name Picture
Cylindropuntia abyssi (Hester) Backeb. Peach Springs cholla
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow Buckhorn cholla  
Cylindropuntia alcahes (F.A.C. Weber) F.M. Knuth Clavellina cholla  
Cylindropuntia anteojoensis (Pinkava) E.F. Anderson
Cylindropuntia arbuscula (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth Arizona pencil cholla  
Cylindropuntia bigelovii (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth Teddy-bear cholla  
Cylindropuntia californica (Torr. & A.Gray) F.M.Knuth California cholla
Snake cholla
Cane cholla
Cylindropuntia calmalliana (J.M.Coult.) F.M.Knuth
Cylindropuntia caribaea (Britton & Rose) F.M. Knuth  
Cylindropuntia cedrosensis Rebman
Cylindropuntia cholla (F.A.C. Weber) F.M. Knuth Chain-link cholla  
Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis M.A.Baker & Cloud-H.
Cylindropuntia ciribe (Engelm. ex J.M.Coult.) F.M.Knuth
Cylindropuntia davisii (Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow) F.M. Knuth
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (Engelm. & Bigelow) F.M.Knuth Silver cholla
Golden cholla
Wiggins' cholla
Cylindropuntia fosbergii (C.B. Wolf) Rebman, M.A. Baker & Pinkava
Cylindropuntia fulgida Engelm. Jumping cholla
Hanging chain cholla
Cylindropuntia ganderi (C.B. Wolf) Rebman & Pinkav
Cylindropuntia hystrix (Griseb.) Areces  
Cylindropuntia imbricata Haw. (DC.) Cane cholla
Walking stick cholla
Tree cholla
Cylindropuntia kleiniae (DC.) F.M. Knuth  
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis F.M.Knuth Desert Christmas cholla
Cylindropuntia libertadensis Rebman
Cylindropuntia lindsayi (Rebman) Rebman
Cylindropuntia molesta (Brandegee) F.M.Knuth Agujilla  
Cylindropuntia multigeniculata (Clokey) Backeb.
Cylindropuntia munzii (C.B. Wolf) Backeb.  
Cylindropuntia prolifera (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth Coastal cholla  
Cylindropuntia ramosissima (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth Branched pencil cholla
Diamond cholla
Cylindropuntia rosea (DC.) Backeb.  
Cylindropuntia sanfelipensis (Rebman) Rebman
Cylindropuntia santamaria (E.M. Baxter) Rebman
Cylindropuntia spinosior (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth Tasajo cholla  
Cylindropuntia tesajo (Engelm. ex J.M. Coult.) F.M. Knuth  
Cylindropuntia thurberi (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth
Cylindropuntia tunicata (Lehm.) F.M.Knuth Sheathed cholla  
Cylindropuntia versicolor (Engelm. ex J.M. Coult.) F.M. Knuth Staghorn cholla  
Cylindropuntia waltoniorum Rebman
Cylindropuntia whipplei (Engelm. & J.M.Bigelow) F.M.Knuth Rat-tail cholla[5]  
Cylindropuntia wolfii (L.D. Benson) J. Rebman – unplaced name Wolf's cholla  


Some hybrids are also known:[4]


  1. ^ A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Cylindropuntia.


  1. ^ Pinkava, Donald J. (1999). "Cactaceae Cactus Family, Part Three: Cylindropuntia (Engelm.) Knuth Chollas". Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences. 32 (1, Vascular Plants of Arizona: Part 5): 32–47. JSTOR 40024914.
  2. ^ "Opuntia". Opuntia Web. 2017.
  3. ^ a b Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
  4. ^ a b "Cylindropuntia (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  5. ^ "Opuntia". Desert Tropicals. Philippe Faucon. 1998–2004.

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