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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


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

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


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

Pomona, California

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Elephant Butte, New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mesilla Park, New Mexico

Eugene, Oregon

Belton, Texas

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)

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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 diame... read more


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 ca... read more


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.


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.


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.