WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

This 2–5-foot tall tangle of thorny pencil-sized branches bristles with thorns. Spiny stem joints snag on clothes, shoes, or flesh. Note the yellowish-green flowers, numerous small, oval, red fruit, and areoles with only one spine. Leptocaulis means slender-stemmed.


FLOWER: May–August. Numerous pale yellowish-green flowers, 1/2–1-inch wide (12–25 mm), develop into smooth, oval, fleshy, red fruits, 3/8–5/8-inch (9–15 mm) long, also armed with glochid barbs. Sometimes called Desert Christmas Cactus because the red fruit decorate the plant throughout winter. Plants often bloom continually throughout the summer with a few flowers at a time.


SPINES: Each areole on the green stems bears 1 reddish-brown spine, 3/4–2-inches long (20–50 mm) with a sheath covering easily slipped off; the tufts of tiny, hair-like glochid barbs can painfully work into bare skin.


HABITAT: Dry, sandy, rocky, limestone, gypsum soils; desert grasslands; creosote bush, mesquite, juniper-oak scrublands.


ELEVATION: 3,100–5,900 feet.


RANGE: AZ, NM, OK, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Candle Cholla, C. kleiniae, has candle–sized stems, reddish-bronze flowers. Cane Cholla, C. imbricata, has 3/4–1 1/4-inch diameter (20–32 mm) stems and magenta flowers.


NM COUNTIES: Southern and eastern NM in low- to mid-elevation, arid habitats: Bernalillo, Chaves, De Baca, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Quay, San Miguel, Sierra, Socorro, Valencia.

PENCIL  CHOLLA  CACTUS,  TASAJILLO

CYLINDROPUNTIA  LEPTOCAULIS  (OPUNTIA  LEPTOCAULIS)

Cactus Family, Cactaceae

Perennial cactus

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Range Map for

Cylindropuntia leptocaulis

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