Golden Rat Tail

Cleistocactus winteri

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cleistocactus (Kly-stoh-KAK-tus) (Info)
Species: winteri (WIN-ter-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Borzicactus aureispinus
Synonym:Hildewintera aureispina
Synonym:Cleistocactus aureispinus
Synonym:Winteria aureispina
Synonym:Winterocereus aureispinus


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:

Pale Pink


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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

Gurley, Alabama

Bellflower, California

Castro Valley, California

Hayward, California

San Diego, California

Torrington, Connecticut

Bradenton Beach, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Henderson, Nevada

Hondo, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 26, 2015, Rare440 from Hondo, TX wrote:

I have a fairly large specimen of this plant that I've grown over the last five years. I bought it from a local nursery, not knowing its species because there was no tag with it. Although it only consisted of three small arms at the time, I really liked the look of all that gold, so I had to have it. Now, five years later, it has grown into a large plant with numerous arms. However, it has not bloomed. This plant doesn't seem to require much care. I usually fertilize it a couple of times a year and water it occasionally (unless we get some rain), but that's about it. I guess our warm, south Texas summers and (usually) mild winters agree with it.


On Apr 14, 2013, mrdiesel from Torrington, CT wrote:

in 1984 I was given a 4" tall lifeless dying cactus. the owner said she was throwing it away. I took home this pathetic cactus,carefully removed it from the cement like soil,washed the roots,and repotted in a 6" dia pot with regular potting soil mixed with about 30% perlite. not knowing where the original owner placed it...I put it in a window that only got sun in the am. I watered it again in about 3 weeks. about 2 months after I rescued the plant it started to show signs of improvement...small golden tuffs at the top of it's single column. that was 29 years ago. today it's a healthy happy cactus. I keep it by my sliding glass doors where it get sun about 8 hours a the summer it goes out on the deck. it's a fast the end of the summer before I bring it indoors I usually ha... read more


On Oct 4, 2009, mswestover from Yulee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Blooms from spring till frost zone 9a. Arms break easily, but root quickly when just stuck in the dirt.


On Mar 7, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

This is again,a case of being common doesn't mean easy to grow. At it's best one of the worlds most striking cacti. Very easy to have rot in the cold of winter if kept wet. Easy to kill stems if too dry in summers heat. Even keeping it clean stands out as much more work than the average cacti. The small, colorful, potted plants are easy to find-big plants are like hen's teeth.


On May 15, 2005, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have one of these, which I've had a few years, and it does wonderfully in my back yard in a hanging basket. (See photos). It has bloomed the last few years and the flowers are quite striking. The plant's appearance is so unusual that it always sparks a conversation when people come over and see it hanging near my back patio.

As spiny as it is, it can be touched if done carefully, and with moving one's hand "with the grain" (spines), rather than against them. This also surprises visitors when I do this. :-)

Several times a year I use a comb to gently remove all the debris that falls on it (such as maple seeds, fallen leaves, etc).

I highly recommend this species as a wonderful plant and a showy conversation piece.


On Feb 26, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Attractively colored (yellowy to brown) drooping columnar cactus from Bolivia