Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Paper Spine Cactus
Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus

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

Synonym:Opuntia papyracantha
Synonym:Tephrocactus papyracanthus

17 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

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

Bloom Color:
Pale Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


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

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 25 photos.
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2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral sandgravel On Jun 13, 2007, sandgravel from Honolulu, HI wrote:

I really like this cactus but I don't know what is wrong. It looks like a snow man. It started with two "balls" then grew another but the whole time it seemed like it was dead! The fourth "ball" came out then all of the four fell over (remained linked) and I can't find any roots. I had it in potting soil with 50% perlite. Does it need food? I very seldom water it. It gets full sun and all the other cactuses around it seem to be happy and thriving. Help!

I'm going to separate a segment, allow it to callous and then see if I can root it.

Positive hanna1 On Feb 17, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Also known as Spruce Cone Cholla. Originally from Westen Argentina. Sunset zones 8,9 12-24. Little to no water!. Hardy in Phoenix, to 15F, Aug Temps to 50F, Blooms are either white or yellow, 2" fruit is brown. Propagation is from seeds or cuttings. Fertilize during growth season in the Spring, 2 parts sand, 2 parts loam with small gravel for good drainage.

Positive palmbob On Jun 19, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Interesting harmless-looking cactus with wide, papery spines. It develops in little pine-cone shaped segments and is very fragile at each segment, taking little effort to break off pieces at that point (had to blow leaves out of my cactus garden with a leaf blower and even that would end up blowing off segments of this species). Easy to propgate from the segments, though. I never could get one to grow very tall as they kept falling apart. Closely related to the much hardier pinecone cactus, which never seem to come apart at its segments. Note that though this plant seems relatively harmless- the large, flat spines are not all that fearsome... .the little fur-like spines at the base of these larger spines are quite a nuisance, and you should still use gloves to handle this plant.


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

Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Capistrano Beach, California
Castro Valley, California
Clayton, California
Fairfield, California
Irvine, California
Oak View, California
Pittsburg, California
San Diego, California (2 reports)
San Francisco, California
Santee, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Des Moines, Iowa
Joplin, Missouri
Henderson, Nevada
Cincinnati, Ohio
Summerville, South Carolina
Brownsville, Texas

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