Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cylindropuntia bigelovii, Teddy Bear Cholla

Teddy Bear Cholla has showy 1.5 inch flowers that range in color from pale yellow, greenish yellow and pale green, often red-tinged. Cylindropuntia bigeloviiTeddy Bear Cholla is a native perennial cactus that blooms from March to June and again in September. Cylindropuntia bigeloviiTeddy Bear Cholla is found in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Preferred habitats include sandy flats, gravelly to rocky washes, bajadas and hillsides. Cylindropuntia bigeloviiTeddy Bear Cholla grows up to 5 feet or so. The branches are shorter that the trunk and the leaves are modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles. Cylindropuntia bigelovii

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia bigelovii
Common Name: Teddy Bear Cholla
Also Called: Jumping Cholla
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia bigelovii)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 5 feet or more.
Growth Form: Tree, Shrub, subshrub; densely branched, branches much shorter than the trunk.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles.
Flower Color: Pale yellow, pale green, greenish yellow, sometimes red-tipped; flowers about 1½, fruit is deciduous; the upper tubercles are larger than the lower tubercles.
Flowering Season: March to June and again in September.
Elevation: Up to 3,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy flats, gravelly to rocky washes, bajadas and hillsides; warm slopes in desert mountains; found in both Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.

Recorded Range: In the United States Teddy Bear Cholla is found in AZ, CA and NV. It is also native to Baja California and Mexico. In Arizona Teddy Bear Cholla is found in the central and western parts of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cylindropuntia bigelovii.

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

Threatened/Endangered Information: Arizona, Opuntia bigelovii, Teddy Bear Cholla is salvage restricted; Nevada, Opuntia bigelovii, Teddy Bear Cholla is protected as a "Cactus, Yucca or Christmas tree".

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 is 1 variety in Cylindropuntia bigelovii:
Cylindropuntia bigelovii var. bigelovii; (AZ, CA, NV).

Comments: Teddy Bear Cholla is often used in desert landscapes in rock gardens, as a barrier and as a featured specimen. However care must be taken not to over-water as the roots are subject to rot. Well drained soils are a must.

The straw colored spiny joints of Teddy Bear Cholla easily detach from their parent plants and randomly fall to the ground by the dozens, easily stepped on by unsuspecting travelers. Spines on the joints are strongly barbed and when you are stuck by one you experience extreme deep pain and to make matters worse they are most difficult to remove as they grab on and adhere persistently.

The type specimen for Cylindropuntia bigelovii is from Mohave County, Arizona.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Arizona Pencil Cholla, Cylindropuntia arbuscula, 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.

Ethno-Herbalist: Southern California Ethnobotany; Ethnobotany of Southern California Native Plants: Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii.

Teddy Bear Cholla provided food and staples for southwestern American indigenous peoples.

  • Cahuilla Food, Dried Food; Buds cooked and dried for indefinite storage.
  • Cahuilla Food, Staple; Berries and stems were an important and dependable food source.
  • Cahuilla Food, Unspecified; Buds cooked 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, updated 11/28/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Opuntia bigelovii.
    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 104, 106, 107 | 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.
    Cholla Web; Cylindropuntia and Grusonia
    Wikipedia contributors. "Cylindropuntia bigelovii." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Jun. 2017. Web. 25 Jul. 2017
    Chris A. Martin, Professor, Arizona State University on-line
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,