Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Tasajillo
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cylindropuntia (sil-in-drop-UN-shee-uh) (Info)
Species: leptocaulis (lep-toh-KAW-liss) (Info)

Synonym:Opuntia leptocaulis
Synonym:Opuntia ramulifera
Synonym:Opuntia leptocaulis var. longispina
Synonym:Opuntia leptocaulis var. stipata

13 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

Unknown - Tell us

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Kaufmann
Thumbnail #1 of Cylindropuntia leptocaulis by Kaufmann

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There are a total of 26 photos.
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4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral CaptPatrick On Feb 4, 2014, CaptPatrick from Llano, TX wrote:

Pencil Cholla, Desert Christmas Cactus, Christmas Cholla, Garambullo, Tasadijillo, Tasajillo, Tesage, Rat-tail Cactus, Slender Stem Cactus
Opuntia leptocaulis

The most widespread of all our chollas grows between 1000 and 5000 feet, usually west of the Brazos River in South and West Texas, through Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona to California and into Mexico, favoring the heavier soils of desert flats. Although pencil cholla is found in all soil types, it prefers sandy and heavier bottomland soils, often along fence rows and under trees from bird deposits. This upright or occasionally sprawling (rarely vinelike) cactus is usually bushy and thicket-forming, reaching 1 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet and having a trunk or main stem measuring 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. The slender, cylindric stems exhibit various shades of green, and feature a solid, woody internal core. The conspicuous, very slender and loose-fitting white to grey 3/4- to 2-inch spines with tan sheaths occur usually one per areole and are not noticeably barbed. It is occasionally spineless. There are few small glochids. The pallid flowers appear mid-summer at irregular intervals, opening usually in the late evening. Pencil cholla grows best under the protection of other vegetation and tends to be obscured from view until its conspicuous bright red grape-size fruits become apparent in the late fall and winter when most of the desert shrubs have lost their foliage. It provides nesting sites for cactus wrens, and is a good food source for white tail deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkey and most birds and small mammals which feast on the berries. Its ornamental value in a xeric landscape is especially valuable as it stands out in the bleak winter vegetation. Leptocaulis means slender-stemmed.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
medium shrub

Exposure: sun

Flower Color: green - yellow or bronze

Blooming Period: summer

Fruit Characteristics: oval, bright red, rarely yellow, fleshy, juicy, persistent

Height: 2 to 6 feet

Width: 3 feet

Plant Character: evergreen

Heat Tolerance: very high

Water Requirements: Rain & Dew (very drought tollerant)

Soil Requirements: neutral

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Positive 2QandLearn On Jun 26, 2013, 2QandLearn from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

A neighbor gave me a cutting of this plant when I moved from a highly-populated town to quite rural S.CA. years back. She said that it had a "lovely flower."

I rooted it in a small pot where it stayed for years, not knowing for sure what it was exactly, or what its needs were. (It would grow, & parts would die. I was keeping it somewhat sheltered because I didn't want it to freeze or otherwise get killed.) I finally got Internet access, and eventually found those things out through diligent searching on it.

Then, my husband helped me plant it along the road side of some ice-plant which had semi-climbed our chain-link fence. It took off!

Within a year or two I found a red fruit on it, and began trying to catch it in flower. Eventually I caught it around 4pm one summer evening, and that appears to be when it always opens its flowers. The fruit turn red, and grow not only more flowers & fruits from them, but, more green branches as well!

I have never tasted the fruit, having just read that they are supposedly edible, and "very tasty", nor have I witnessed any birds feeding on them, but the plant is only visible from the road, so maybe some have that I couldn't see. However, it remains full of undamaged fruits . . . except that recently the top of some of the plant with fruit on it fell, or got broken off . . . maybe in the wind.

I'll make sure not to plant this where people are liable to brush up against it! It is one more Cacti that likes to grab you & hang on, breaking off to possibly hitch a ride to new locals to grow in!

Positive eatmyplants On Jun 12, 2012, eatmyplants from Comanche county, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I won't rate this plant negatively since it has its place in the ecosystem and would be useful in xeriscaping. However, if you're rambling about in its territory, the spiny foliage will stick to your pants legs and socks. I have observed it to be hardier than the above info indicates and have seen it survive unblemished after temps down to around 15F. And the above info says propagation is by woody stem but it would be far easier to just root the succulent parts in soil like with most any other cacti. This is the first year I've observed this plant bloom (yellow). I'll be posting pics.

Positive krzykris On Apr 1, 2011, krzykris from Barstow, CA wrote:

I moved into a home 6 years ago and while clearing I found this cactus it was 1ft by 1ft I looked it up and it was a christmas cactus recently a friend asked me about it. Upon more research I didnt see of any growing in california, except mine so far I love it. This year it is about 3ft by 3ft.

Positive angele On Feb 29, 2008, angele wrote:

USDA has the common name listed as Christmas Cactus and i know it as Desert Christmas Cactus.
This cactus grows in the wild near my home and I have 2 growing in a cactus garden. I love the red fruit that persist through the winter. Around mid-February a bird called the Pyrrhuloxia begins eating the fruit. The cactus, including the fruit, is covered in glochids so i don't know how the bird eats these without getting thorns in his tongue.

The cactus can get leggy & woody but is easily cut back.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Aguila, Arizona
Ajo, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tonto Basin, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Wellton, Arizona
Barstow, California
Menifee, California
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Mesilla Park, New Mexico
Eugene, Oregon
Bulverde, Texas
De Leon, Texas
Dripping Springs, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Kempner, Texas
Kermit, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
Lipan, Texas
Llano, Texas
Poteet, Texas
San Angelo, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

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