Cholla Cactus 101: A Look at 8 Different Species

The Cholla Cactus is a succulent that grows in the desert. It has many different species, which vary in their size and shape. This is a fun way to bring the desert into your home or office.

Native to parts of North America and West Indies, the cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia sp.) is a member of the Opuntiaceae family. Most cholla cacti are densely covered in sharp, barbed needles called glochids. These glochids detach easily from the plant and can become lodged in the skin, causing irritation. Chollas are sometimes referred to as “jumping cacti” because the glochids can detach and become embedded in unsuspecting passersby.

There are more than 20 species of cholla cactus, including barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), buckhorn cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa), chain-fruit cholla (Cylindropuntia fulgida), and Christmas cholla (Cylindropuntia leptocaulis). Others include pencil cholla (Cylindropuntia kleiniae), staghorn cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor), and teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii).

While all cholla cacti share some common characteristics, there are also some notable differences between the various species. This blog post will explore some of those differences and briefly overview each type of cholla cactus.

Cholla Cactus: An Overview

Before we dive into the different types of cholla cacti, let’s first take a look at some of the plant’s key characteristics. As we mentioned, chollas are members of the Opuntiaceae family and are native to North America and the West Indies.

Most species grow in arid or semi-arid environments, such as deserts and dry grasslands. They typically have a cylindrical shape and can range in height from a few inches to several feet. Many chollas are covered in sharp, barbed needles called glochids.

A cholla cactus in a pot.
Most species grow in arid or semi-arid environments, such as deserts and dry grasslands.

These glochids detach easily from the plant and can become lodged in the skin, causing irritation. This characteristic of Chollas have given them the name “jumping cacti”.

Different Types of Cholla Cactus

There are different types of Cholla cactus you’re likely to come across. They include:

1. Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus)

As its name suggests, the barrel cactus is shaped like a barrel. It is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

Barrel cacti can grow up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide. They are typically green in color, but some barrel cacti can also be yellow, red, or orange.

Barrel cacti have spines that are up to 2 inches long. The flowers of the barrel cactus are usually red, orange, or yellow.

One of the most notable differences between the barrel cactus and other types of cholla cactus is that they don’t have glochids. Instead, it has long, sharp spines that can cause serious injury if they come in direct contact with human skin.

In its natural habitat, the barrel cactus typically grows in desert climates. It is a slow-growing cactus that can live for hundreds of years.

2. Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa)

Buckhorn cholla is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It gets its name from its fruit, which is shaped like a buck’s horn.

Buckhorn cholla typically grows to be between 3 and 5 feet tall. It has green stems that are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of buckhorn cholla are usually yellow, orange, or red.

A Buckhorn Cholla flowering.
It gets its name from its fruit, which is shaped like a buck’s horn.

Like barrel cactus, buckhorn cholla does not have glochids. Instead, it has long, sharp spines that can cause serious injury if they come in direct contact with your skin.

The Buckhorn cholla does well as an outdoor decorative plant in desert climates. It is a slow-growing cactus that can live for up to 50 years.

3. Jumping Cholla

The jumping cholla is a tree-like cactus native to the deserts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. It gets its name from the fact that its barbed spines can easily detach from the plant and become embedded in the skin of passing animals or humans.

Jumping cholla typically grows to be between 6 and 10 feet tall. It has green stems that are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of the jumping cholla are usually white, pink, or purple.

Close up image of a Cholla cactus.
It is also used for erosion control in desert areas.

Like other types of cholla cactus, jumping cholla does not have glochids. Instead, it has long, sharp spines that can cause serious injury if they come in direct contact with your skin.

The jumping cholla is not typically used as an ornamental plant due to its dangerous spines. However, it is sometimes used for erosion control in desert areas.

4. Cane Cholla

Native to Oklahoma, Arizona, and parts of Texas, the cane cholla is also known as a “walking stick” cactus because of its long, thin stems. It can grow up to 20 feet tall in the wild but is often much smaller when grown in a pot.

Cane cholla has green stems that are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of cane cholla are usually white, pink, or purple.

The cane cholla is not typically used as an ornamental plant due to its dangerous spines. However, it is sometimes used for erosion control in desert areas.

Besides animal dispersal, this cactus also spreads by breaking off at joints when it is brushed against. The broken segment of the cactus then sticks to animal fur or human clothing and is carried to a new location where it can take root and grow.

Some people have the cane cholla in their home gardens as an ornamental plant. However, this cactus is not recommended for home gardens because of its potential to spread and become invasive.

5. Christmas Cholla Cactus

Aptly named, the Christmas cholla cactus usually produces beautiful red berries around the holiday season. It is a small cactus that grows only about 2 feet tall.

The Christmas cholla cactus has green stems that are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of the Christmas cholla cactus are usually white, pink, or purple.

This type of cholla cactus thrives in both deserts and grasslands, making it a familiar sight in many home gardens. The Christmas cholla rapidly grows to colonize an area, making it somewhat of a nuisance if not kept in check.

Despite its menacing appearance, the Christmas cholla is actually a relatively harmless plant. However, the sharp spines can cause skin irritation if they come into contact with bare flesh. Handling this plant cautiously and wearing gloves when working around it is important.

Pruning the Christmas cactus is relatively easy and can be done with a sharp pair of shears or a pruning knife. Simply cut away any stems that are getting too long or out of control.

If you have pets or small children, keeping them away from the Christmas cholla cactus is important, as the spines can cause pain if they come into contact with skin.

6. Claret Cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)

The claret cup cactus is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It gets its name from the deep red color of its flowers, which bloom in early spring.

The claret cup cactus is a small plant that grows only about 2 feet tall. It has green stems that are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of the claret cup cactus are deep red and bloom in early spring.

Claret Cup flowering.
It gets its name from the deep red color of its flowers, which bloom in early spring.

It is one of the most popular cacti for gardens and landscaping because of its showy flowers and lack of water requirements. The claret cup cactus is easy to grow and care for and relatively resistant to pests and diseases.

Typically, it only requires watering about once a week and can even tolerate some drought conditions. It prefers full sun but can also grow in partial shade. It is important to plant the claret cup cactus in well-draining soil to avoid root rot.

The claret cup cactus is a beautiful plant that is easy to care for and makes a great addition to any garden or landscape.

7. Diamond Cholla

The diamond cholla is a type of cactus native to the deserts of Arizona and California. It is a member of the family Cactaceae, which includes all cacti. The diamond cholla gets its name from its diamond-shaped leaves.

Diamond Cholla can grow up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It has many small, sharp spines on its stems and leaves. The diamond cholla blooms in the spring and summer months. Its flowers are white or pink.

The fruit of this cactus is edible. So, if you’re wondering whether you can eat raw cactus, this is the answer. Diamond has a sweet taste and is often used in jams and jellies.

The diamond cholla is also a popular plant for landscaping. It is drought-tolerant and does not require much water to grow.

8. Staghorn Cholla

The staghorn cholla usually exhibits branching habits and is commonly seen in the deserts of Arizona and California. It gets its name from its antler-like branches, which are covered in sharp spines.

Cholla cactus bearing fruits.
It gets its name from its antler-like branches, which are covered in sharp spines.

The staghorn cholla typically grows to be about 2-3 feet tall. Its branches are green or blue-green and are covered in sharp spines. The flowers of this cactus are typically yellow or white.

The staghorn cholla is a popular plant for landscaping because it is easy to care for and does not require much water. It is also drought-tolerant. This cactus can be propagated from stem cuttings.

Summary

As you can see, there are many different types of cholla cacti. Each has its own unique appearance and characteristics. While they all fall under the cholla cactus family, each one is different. Be sure to do your research before you go out and purchase a cholla cactus!

Last update on 2022-12-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

read this next

Cactus fruits are edible and safe. Scientific research has proved that consuming cactus fruits offer a wide range of health benefits to the body. They can prevent lipid oxidation, lower the blood sugar level, and speed up the wound healing process
Drooping is a relatively common problem that affects cacti plants. While there is no specific cause of the issue, a close inspection of your succulent can help you determine why it is falling over. We are here to help!
Nepenthes or carnivorous pitcher plants have a kind of suction tube or bucket-like plant native to Malaysia and Sumatra. They make for an amazing houseplant as well as a curious ornamental plant in the garden. But here are some amazing facts about these plants that you probably didn’t know!
There are various cacti species that can be grown indoors. To pick the right cactus for you, you should consider factors like sunlight, space, temperature, potting, and required maintenance techniques
Water mother of thousands in the morning for the best results. Watering it during the day will cause its buds to swell, ready for harvest. Watering once a week is sufficient, unless your pot is placed in a very sunny spot or if there are no leaves to gather energy from the sun.
Air plants are a unique, beautiful, and low-maintenance houseplant that require no soil to grow. They’re a wonderful choice for people with black thumbs (such as myself!) or anyone who wants a fresh new greenery to brighten up their house without committing to weekly watering or repotting. Here are 11 excellent facts about air plants that you definitely need to know.
A cactus blooming is a spectacular sight. If you see a cactus in bloom, it means that the plant is getting enough water and sunlight. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something right; it may mean that there’s an opportunity for more water and sun; if the plant isn’t flowering, then there probably isn’t enough water, sun or the right conditions
Growing succulents at home is now a popular endeavor, alright but do you know the pros and cons of the same? Before embarking on this journey, it is important to tae an objective view of what you need to have in place for succulents and how they could help or hinder your garden.
Have you had your succulent for some time now? Did it stop growing? Is it turning yellow, or even brown? Reviving a dying succulent is not as difficult as you’d think. Just follow these six easy steps and your succulent will be growing again in no time.
Golden Barrel Cactus needs direct sunlight to thrive; since golden barrels grow outdoors in desert conditions that receive intense sunlight, the cactus cannot acclimate itself to low light. These plants do best when they receive full sun exposure while also planted in well-draining soil.
Succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow in the world. Succulent seeds can take anywhere from 10 to 40 days to germinate depending upon how warm they are kept and what type of seed they are. Let’s learn how to start succulents from seed right now!
The family of succulents is one of the most diverse families of plant life in the world, and features thousands of plants. In this guide, we will examine 9 different species that make excellent houseplants, and explore some of the more popular varieties to see why everyone loves them so much.
Although cacti are low-maintenance plants and can do well in harsh conditions, you still need to do some research to grow healthy cactus. Here are 10 facts you should consider before getting a cactus for your indoor or outdoor garden.
Sansevieria houseplants are beautiful additions to the home or office. Both easy to grow and low-maintenance, these plants can bring an exotic look to your space with minimal effort on your part. Make sure you follow these golden rules for watering Sansevieria plants .
Is Succulent Soil the Same as Cactus Soil The answer to this question may not be as straightforward depending on the type of succulent you are growing. For instance, cactus soil is a completely different thing from desert or cacti soils which have more components and nutrients mixed into them to help nourish plants. However, cacti and succulents share a number of commonalities and this includes soil.
A cactus garden is a unique way to give more character to your backyard. They’re not only easy to grow but they’re fun and rewarding. Whether you want to add some color, texture or privacy to the space, there’s a cactus for that! Keep in mind that cacti are easily adaptable and can withstand dry conditions, heat and neglect.
Do Cacti Plants Die After Flowering? This is an interesting question, and I’m sure many of you have wondered the same thing before. Thankfully, it has a very simple answer as well! So stick around, and let’s find out what happens after a Cactus Flowering!
Cactus plants are great plants to have in your home since they bring subtle beauty and an incredible visual experience, especially when they flower. The only thing you need to ensure when growing these plants in your home is to have them in the right place

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.