Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Giant Tree Cholla, Tree Cholla, Candelabrum Cactus, Cane Cactus, Cane Cholla, Walking Stick Cholla
Cylindropuntia imbricata

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cylindropuntia (sil-in-drop-UN-shee-uh) (Info)
Species: imbricata (im-brih-KAY-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Cylindropuntia imbricata var. imbricata
Synonym:Cereus imbricatus
Synonym:Opuntia imbricata
Synonym:Opuntia cardenche
Synonym:Cylindropuntia cardenche

One vendor has this plant for sale.

29 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
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:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

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
From softwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow after last frost

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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There are a total of 24 photos.
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9 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive devinetime On Jun 6, 2013, devinetime from Broken Arrow, OK wrote:

got some cutting few years back from a lady from Owasso Oklahoma she had a giant one growing that her husband start 20 years ago the thing was tree size it was about 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide like a tree I live in broken arrow Oklahoma and they seem to do fine where I live they are very cold hardy cacti as what I can see one of my favorites

Positive idahocactus2 On Jan 7, 2013, idahocactus2 from Boise, ID wrote:

this large tree-like cholla grows very well here in the Boise Valley in many locations. Many specimans here are 6 - 10 feet tall and covered with many blossoms in the early summer. Some of the plants are at least 40 years old, and
have very woody trunks.

Will thrive in temps. well below zero. No water and very little care with occasional pruning for any winter snow damage and to shape. Will easily grow from cuttings.

Birds sometimes will nest in the branches to protect the hatchlings from cats and other predators. Makes quite a statement in the desert yard grouped with large yuccas, salvias, prickly pear cactus and others.

Positive whyteboy_9 On Dec 22, 2011, whyteboy_9 from Pueblo, CO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in the heart of the Cholla belt of SE Colorado, where this beautiful plant grows in abundance along with a few species of yucca and several opuntiads.

C. imbricata is highly variable in my region. It can grow as a low, shrubby (2-3 feet tall) plant similar to C. whipplei , a much larger shrub, a single-trunked or multi-trunked plant 6-8 feet high. I know of one VERY isolated population of this species nearby where the average size of the plants is 6-8 feet and one extremely large individual was measured at just under 12 feet tall ! Seems to be a mutation, as the inter-nodal length was nearly twice the norm. Flower colors can also be variable, but are most commonly magenta.

Positive Alexwtf_93 On Dec 6, 2010, Alexwtf_93 from Susanville, CA wrote:

another one of my favorite cactus that is hardy enough to grow in northern california all year (the cold winters encourage them to flower more), some grow several feet tall, others break when it snows, but even the broken branches stay alive and grow the flowing spring

Positive gardenboi On Oct 27, 2008, gardenboi from Felton, DE (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have had this cactus growing in the ground and in pots and in both conditions have survived the winters here in DE with no damage from winter conditions. I love the look of the branches when dried out. They are fast growing and very easy to grow. I fertilize both in the ground and in pots with osmocote. I don't measure the osmocote fertilizer, I just toss a handfull on the ones in the ground and the ones in the pots I just toss a smaller amount on them, I would assume the smaller ones I toss about a tablespoon or two in the pot. It is amazing how much cold these cacti will take!

Positive JohnTS71 On Jun 21, 2008, JohnTS71 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of my favorite cacti. I live in San Antonio so this was a no brainer to be planted. Little did I know how fast this cactus would grow. My mother broke off 2 very small arms and I planted them in a pot...they barley grew. The plant I got them from was given to me was around 1 1/2 feet tall. I planted the 2 little ones in my new cactus garden...they were so small I stepped on one and thought I killed it. I put it back into the ground and about a month later they started growing arms. THe mother of the them was planted a month later and it has grown 6in tall since I planted it a month ago. It is truly a must have for a cactus garden because it can take the heat and severe cold.

Positive hardyinokc On Feb 16, 2006, hardyinokc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

My mother lives near the Oklahoma panhandle (zone 6b) and has these growing wild in her pastures. They have survived many winters below 0degrees and can spread to a width of 15-20 foot and a height of about 12 foot.

Positive htop On Aug 13, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant, but have observed many cultivated tree cholla growing in landscapes. Tree cholla's native range extends from Arizona (eastern Cochise County), across southern New Mexico into Kansas, southern Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma and southward into northern Mexico. In Texas, it inhabits the grasslands in West Texas (Big Bend Region) and west of San Saba, and Burnet, Bexar, and Victoria counties. It is an arborescent (tree-like) plant that can attain a height of 10 feet or more and has a distinct woody trunk. The stems are about 12 inches long and 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. The laterally flattened tubercles surrounding each areole are sharply raised and are up to 3/4 to 1-3/8 inches long. 3 to 4 rows of tubercles are visible from one side of the stem. There are 8 to 30, 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches long spines per areole which are pink to brown in color and covered with a tan sheath that persist until spring. The 2 to 2-3/4 inches in diameter magenta blooms are terminally clustered at the ends of branches. The yellow, umbilicate (depressed and scarred top), 1 to 1-1/2 inches long fruit has a few spines and persists on the plant through the winter. It has a few seeds which are gray and about 1/8 inch in diameter. The tree cholla has a beautiful shape and is exceptionally nice when in bloom. It usually blooms prolifically in early summer and I have seen it prolifically bloom again in late summer. It is a great addition to a wildscape, rock garden and xeriscape, but needs plenty of room to allow it to grow to its full potential.

The Navajos used poultices made of the cleaned joints of chollas. They despined the joints, split them lengthwise, heated them and applied them to relieve the pain of arthritis. The roots of cholla have been chewed to treat diarrhea.

Positive corky59 On Oct 16, 2004, corky59 from Lakeland, FL wrote:

just got one a few months ago. doing well in huge pot. if it survives fla. humididty i will put in ground in spring time. can't wait. boy fast growing to. {so far} corky

Neutral Xenomorf On Oct 15, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Many cholla's resemble links to a chain.
There are also other species of cholla with the common name "Chain-link".
I think the best known species would be, Cylindropuntia cholla.

Neutral TucsonJen On Oct 14, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

Also know as Chainlink Cactus - the criss crossing joints resemble a chain link fence. It gets at least 10 feet tall and will likely continue spreading out endlessly as it's fallen joints take root.


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

, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Huntington, Arkansas
El Cerrito, California
Susanville, California
Boulder, Colorado
Pueblo, Colorado (4 reports)
Trinidad, Colorado
Walsenburg, Colorado
Dover, Delaware
Boise, Idaho
Meridian, Idaho
Twin Falls, Idaho
Chicago, Illinois
Parsons, Kansas
Prospect, Kentucky
Worcester, Massachusetts
Independence, Missouri (2 reports)
Imperial, Nebraska
Reno, Nevada
Albuquerque, New Mexico
La Luz, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Tucumcari, New Mexico
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Kenton, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Eugene, Oregon
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Elgin, South Carolina
New Ellenton, South Carolina
Arlington, Texas
Brady, Texas
Cibolo, Texas
Frisco, Texas
Irving, Texas
Kempner, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring Branch, Texas
Magna, Utah
Reston, Virginia
South Boston, Virginia

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