Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Spruce Cone Cholla, Pine Cone Cactus, Pinecone Cactus
Tephrocactus articulatus var. diadematus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tephrocactus (tef-roh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: articulatus var. diadematus

Synonym:Opuntia diademata
Synonym:Tephrocactus diadematus

6 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

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
Sun to Partial Shade

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

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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
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 17 photos.
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5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive camrichdesigns On May 22, 2013, camrichdesigns from Scottsdale, AZ wrote:

I was given a cutting of this plant 4 years ago, and from that original plant, I now have several healthy plants around my yard. This year it is blooming with small soft white flowers. An easy plant to grow here in Scottsdale Az.

Positive Tunnelmotor On May 7, 2012, Tunnelmotor from Picture Rocks, AZ wrote:

Last fall, I put two small spruce cone cholla in a concrete planter in full sun. Used standard cactus mix from big-box store. This spring, I found 16-18 new nubs. Within a couple of months, the nubs have grown into new arms almost the size of the original arms. It's kind of fun to watch their quick progress. I have watered the plants thoroughly about once every two weeks this spring. They are about 50 percent covered by standard shade screen, given the intense Sonoran Desert sun/heat. As others mention, the arms break off easily; I anticipate this will be an advantage in keeping the plants to a reasonable size. Plants have few actual spines, so planting in pots near a pool is an option.

Positive gfsgreens On Jan 12, 2012, gfsgreens from Las Vegas, NV wrote:

Easy to grow, easy to handle, but beware. They do have some very fine glochids (irritating spines/hairs), but they are not as prevalent like the ones found on many opuntia cacti. I've had mine for over 20 years. It has gone through freezing temperatures down to 15-20 degrees some years. If you bump them, segments may/will fall off. They will root where they fall or take them and insert partially into the ground. It will grow. I have had pieces sit on benches or on top of gravel for more than a year, with no soil, and it will still grow if you give it a little dirt and water. They may get pretty shriveled looking, but they still have life and the will to live given half a chance. Mine grow to about 18 inches tall with segments or branching.

Positive azsunnygrl On Oct 3, 2004, azsunnygrl from Tucson, AZ wrote:

This is an extremely slow growing plant. My mother was given a piece of it 15 years ago. Everytime a piece would fall off, I'd stick it in the ground and it would root, providing me with many new plantings. If you don't want a plant that sheds its pads easily, don't get this plant. The original plant bloomed for the first time this spring. The white flowers made a nice contrast to the earth-tone colors of the plant. This cactus doesn't have many thorns and grows nicely in pots.

Neutral Xenomorf On Aug 21, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The 'inermis' form of this species-variety is the one with no glochids. This non-inermis form does have very tiny irritating glochids that I was pulling out of my fingers.

Positive palmbob On Jul 25, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is one of the easiest and safest cactus I have ever grown. Cool looking pine-cone-like plant- suckers profusely and easy to grow by just knocking off one of the 'cones' and stuffing it in the ground. Likes lots of water in summer- grows a lot faster... but tolerates long, wet, sloggy, cold winters here in So Cal. No spines, too!


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

Bullhead City, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Queen Creek, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Fontana, California
Reseda, California
San Jose, California
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Vacaville, California
Las Vegas, Nevada

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