Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cylindropuntia arbuscula, Arizona Pencil Cholla

Arizona Pencil Cholla has bright yellow to bronze to brick red flowers with yellow anthers. This species blooms from May to June. Cylindropuntia arbuscularArizona Pencil Cholla is a native perennial found only in the state of Arizona; it is found in the central and southern parts of the state. Cylindropuntia arbuscular Arizona Pencil Cholla is a shrub with a trunk up to 1 foot in diameter and about almost 9 feet tall. Its joints range from 2 to 6 inches long; plants are sparsely to densely branched. Cylindropuntia arbuscular Arizona Pencil Cholla is a native perennial that prefers gravelly washes in the desert. Cylindropuntia arbuscular Arizona Pencil Cholla is salvage restricted in Arizona. It is similar to, and closely related to Christmas Cholla, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis and to Klein's Pencil Cactus, Cylindropuntia kleiniae. Cylindropuntia arbuscular

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia arbuscula
Common Name: Arizona Pencil Cholla
Also Called: Pencil Cholla; (Spanish: Siviri, Clavellina)
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia arbuscula)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 9 feet, usually about 3 or 4 feet.
Growth Form: Shrub; trunk up to 1 foot and 2 to 4 inches in diameter, joints 2 to 6 inches long, plants sparsely to densely branched.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles.
Flower Color: Bright yellow to bronze to brick red, anthers yellow.
Flowering Season: May and June.
Elevation: 1,000 to 3,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy, gravelly washes in the desert.

Recorded Range: In the United States, Arizona Pencil Cholla is found only in the state of Arizona, where it is found in the central and southern parts of the state. It is also native to central and northwest Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cylindropuntia arbuscula.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: Opuntia arbuscula, Pencil Cholla is salvage restricted in Arizona.

Genus Information: Cylindropuntia contains 29 species and 39 accepted taxa overall in the United States and Canada. The Plant List includes 43 accepted species names and includes a further 100 scientific plant names of infraspecific rank for the genus Cylindropuntia. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Arizona Pencil Cholla, Cylindropuntia arbuscula is in a group of cacti sometimes referred to as "pencil chollas" and is similar to, and closely related to Christmas Cholla, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis and to Klein's Pencil Cactus, Cylindropuntia kleiniae.

The type specimen for Cylindropuntia arbuscula is from Pinal County, Arizona.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii, Gander's Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia ganderi, Klein's Pencil Cactus, Cylindropuntia kleiniae Christmas Cactus, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis and Walkingstick Cactus, Cylindropuntia spinosior.

Arizona Pencil Cholla provided food for southwestern American indigenous peoples.

  • Pima Food, Fruit; Green fruits boiled with saltbush and used for food.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Dried Food; Calyxes pit roasted with inkweed and dried for future use.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Unspecified; Calyxes pit roasted with inkweed and eaten fresh.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Unspecified; Flowers pit roasted and eaten.

  • See other ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn, Michigan.

    References: Date Profile Completed: 06/07/2015, 07/21/2015 ,updated 08/20/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Opuntia arbuscula.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search (accessed 07/24/2017).
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/stateSearch
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 07/24/2017).
    http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Cactaceae/Cylindropuntia/
    Donald J. Pinkava, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Cactaceae| 104, 107, 110, 111 | Cylindropuntia | Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 07-Jun-2015).
    1969, Benson, Lyman, The Cacti of Arizona, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.