Tephrocactus Species, Pine Cone Cactus, Spruce Cone Cholla

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


Cactus and Succulents

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid 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:

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Bullhead City, Arizona

Carefree, 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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Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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.


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.


On Aug 21, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, 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.


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!