Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Buckhorn Cholla

Buckhorn Cholla is a native perennial that may grow up to 7 feet or more high. Flowers vary in color from bright yellow to bronze to brick red. Cylindropuntia acanthocarpaBuckhorn Cholla grows in elevations from 500 to 3,500 feet in sandy or gravelly soils. Cylindropuntia acanthocarpaBuckhorn Cholla is a shrub or arborescent plant with a short trunk. It is found in AZ, CA, NV, UT. Cylindropuntia acanthocarpaBuckhorn Cholla blooms in the spring and early summer (May to June). There are 4 varieties in this species. Cylindropuntia acanthocarpaBuckhorn Cholla has leaves modified into spines, tiny spines or glochids emerge from areoles. The type specimen for this species is from Mohave County, Arizona. Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa
Common Name: Buckhorn Cholla
Also Called: (Spanish: Choya, Tasajo)
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia acanthocarpa, Opuntia acanthocarpa var. ramosa)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 7 feet or more.
Growth Form: Shrub or arborescent plant; trunk short.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles.
Flower Color: Bright yellow to bronze to brick red;
Flowering Season: May to June; Spring to early Summer.
Elevation: 500 to 3,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy or gravelly soils.

Recorded Range: In the United States Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa is found in AZ, CA, NV and UT. In Arizona it is found throughout the central and western parts of the state. AZ, CA, extreme southeast NV AND extreme southwest UT.

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

Threatened/Endangered Information: Opuntia acanthocarpa, Buckhorn Cholla is salvage restricted in Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa.

Genus Information: In North America there are 29 species and 39 accepted taxa overall for Cylindropuntia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 43 accepted species names and a further 100 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 12 species of genus, California has 10 species, Nevada has 5 species, New Mexico has 8 species, Texas has 6 species, Utah has 3 species. Hybrids excluded, all data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 4 varieties in Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa:
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa var. acanthocarpa, Buckhorn Cholla (AZ, NV and UT);
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa var. coloradensis, Pinkava Colorado Buckhorn Cholla (AZ, CA, NV,UT);
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa var. major, Pinkava Buckhorn Cholla (AZ, CA and NV) and
Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa var. thornberi, Pinkava Colorado Buckhorn Cholla (AZ).

Comments: The type specimen for Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa is from Mohave County, Arizona. The author of Southwest Desert Flora is fortunate to have had the late Dr. Donald J. Pinkava as his professor, in 1972, for the course Flora of Arizona at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

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

References: Date Profile Completed: 06/07/2015, 07/21/2015, updated 01/28/2017, updated 11/28/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Opuntia acanthocarpa.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search (accessed 07/24/2017).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/24/2017).
Donald J. Pinkava, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Cactaceae| Page 94, 95, 102, 103 | 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.
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,