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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

Numerous, see text

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.



Blooming cholla cactus with bird's nest in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Yellow cholla in detail

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]

Selected speciesEdit


  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. ^ "Opuntia". Desert Tropicals. Philippe Faucon. 1998–2004.

External linksEdit