Thistle Cholla

Common Name: Thistle Cholla

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia tunicata

Origin: Southern Texas to Central Mexico (Chihuahuan Desert), Ecuador to Peru

Family: Cactaceae

Bloom time: Mid-spring - mid-summer

The Thistle Cholla is a stand-out specimen, with its electric white spines catching the intense summer sun, making it appear almost cloud-like from a distance. Said to “jump”, an inattentive passerby may experience first-hand one of this cholla’s ingenious evolutionary adaptations for vegetative reproduction: Barbed spines hold tenaciously to unsuspecting desert animals, and fragile stems allow small pieces to break away to be carried to another location where it will eventually fall off and take root. The plant grows in shrubby masses up to 2 feet high. Watch for yellow or tan flowers from mid-spring to mid-summer.