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

See text

  • Opuntia (Cylindropuntia) Engelm.
  • Grusonia (Cylindropuntia) (Engelm.) G.D.Rowley

Cylindropuntia is a genus of cacti (family Cactaceae), containing species commonly known as chollas (/ˈɔɪəz/), native to northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States. They are known for their barbed spines that tenaciously attach to skin, fur, and clothing. 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 southwestern and south-central 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 Hoffmann's teddybear cholla
Pink teddy-bear cholla
Mason Valley cholla
Cylindropuntia fulgida Engelm. Jumping cholla
Hanging chain cholla
Cylindropuntia ganderi (C.B. Wolf) Rebman & Pinkav Gander cholla
Gander's buckhorn cholla
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]

Cholla wood in pet trade[edit]

Dried, dead Cylindropuntia sections are called "cholla wood" and are popular in the pet trade. In aquariums they are immersed partly or entirely into the water for pets to swim through, and in terrariums and other terrestrial pet enclosures they are placed and propped up for climbing.


  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. 32 (1, Vascular Plants of Arizona: Part 5). Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences: 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. Archived from the original on 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2007-10-16.

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