Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cylindropuntia spinosior, Walkingstick Cactus

Walkingstick Cactus has attractive multicolored flowers including red, rose, red-purple, bronze-purple, pink, yellow, greenish yellow or whitish. Cylindropuntia spinosior Walkingstick Cactus blooms from spring to mid-summer (April-August). Cylindropuntia spinosior Walkingstick Cactus is a native perennial that grows up to 5 feet or more. It prefers habitats ranging from desert and plains grasslands, extending onto Sonoran Desert flats; sandy to loamy soils. Cylindropuntia spinosior Walkingstick Cactus is also called Cane Cholla, Spiny Cholla and Toumey-can Cholla. Cylindropuntia spinosior Walkingstick Cactus has showy flowers that includes pale yellow anthers and white, pink or purple styles. Cylindropuntia spinosior

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia spinosior
Common Name: Walkingstick Cactus
Also Called: Cane Cholla, Spiny Cholla and Toumey-cane Cholla
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia spinosior, Opuntia spinosoir, Opuntia whipplei var. spinosior)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 6 feet.
Growth Form: Tree, Shrub; widely branching, stem segments firmly attached, whorled or sub-whorled, green to purple.
Leaves: Leaves modified into spines or glochids and emerging from areoles.
Flower Color: Red, rose, red-purple, bronze-purple, pink, yellow, greenish yellow or whitish; anthers pale yellow, style white or pink to purple; fruits yellow, sometimes tinged reddish to purplish, broadly cylindric, fleshy, strongly tuberculate, spineless.
Flowering Season: April to August.
Elevation: 1,000 to 6,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Desert and plains grasslands, extending onto Sonoran Desert flats, sandy to loamy soils.

Recorded Range: In the United States Walkingstick Cactus is relatively rare where it is found in Arizona and New Mexico. It also occurs in Mexico (Chihuahua, Sonora)

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cylindropuntia spinosior.

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

Threatened/Endangered Information: Arizona: Cylindropuntia spinosior, Christmas Cactus is salvage restricted.

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.

Comments:The type species for Opuntia spinosior is from southern Arizona.

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

Walkingstick Cactus has been used a a staple by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Papago Food, Staple; Pit baked buds, fruits and joints considered a staple food.

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

    References: Posted 06/05/2015, 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 spinosior.
    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 101, 104, 105 | Cylindropuntia | Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations