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Bruce D. Parfitt, except as noted

Perennial herb, shrub, tree, generally fleshy. Stem: cylindric to spheric, or flat; surface smooth, tubercled, or ribbed (grooved); nodal areoles bearing flowers. Leaf: generally 0 or early-deciduous, flat to ± cylindric. Spines: areoles generally with central, radial spines, occasionally with glochids. Flower: generally 1 per areole, bisexual [unisexual], sessile, radial [bilateral]; perianth parts generally many [5], scale-like to petal-like; stamens many; ovary inferior [superior], style 1, stigma lobes generally several [many]. Fruit: dry to fleshy or juicy, indehiscent to variously dehiscent, spiny, scaly, or naked; tubercled or smooth. Seed: generally many, occasionally 0–few.
± 125 genera, ± 1800 species: America (especially deserts), Africa; many cultivated, some edible. [Parfitt & Gibson 2004 FNANM 4:92–257] Spines smaller, fewer (0) in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Introduced species increasingly escape cultivation. Hybridization common in some genera. Taxa of Escobaria in TJM (1993) moved to Coryphantha. —Scientific Editors: Bruce D. Parfitt, Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Unabridged references: [Hunt 2006 The New Cactus Lexicon, DH Books, Milborne Port, England]

Key to Cactaceae


Marc Baker, Bruce D. Parfitt & Jon Rebman

Shrub or small tree, erect to decumbent, many-branched. Stem: regularly segmented, segments generally < 50 cm, < 5 cm diam, cylindric, fleshy, glabrous; ribs generally 0; tubercles generally elongate. Leaf: conic to cylindric, deciduous. Spines: 1–many per areole, < 2 mm diam, generally needle-shaped, smooth, straight, tip smooth or barbed, epidermis separating as a papery sheath; central spines generally not distinct from radial spines; glochids generally numerous in each areole. Flower: lateral to terminal, from distal portion of areole, 1.8–8 cm diam; perianth yellow, yellow-green, orange-yellow, to bronze, pink, or red; ovary glabrous, spines 0–many, glochids many in each areole, scales 0. Fruit: indehiscent; spheric or cylindric to obconic, dry or fleshy to leathery in age, green to dark yellow, glabrous, spiny or spines 0. Seed: 1.9–7 mm, flattened to ± spheric, surface smooth to angular, within an aril, bony and ± white when dry.
36 species: America. (Cylindric Opuntia) [Baker & Cloud-Hughes 2014 Madroño 61:231–243; Mayer et al. 2011 Madroño 58:106–112] Hybridization common. Young buds of some species used for food, many species for ornament. Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis newly described, added as native.
Unabridged references: [Pinkava 2002 Succ Plant Res 6:59–98; Rebman & Pinkava 2001 Florida Entomol 84:474–483]

Key to Cylindropuntia

C. prolifera (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth COAST CHOLLA
Plant < 2 m. Stem: trunk generally 1, branches few to several, generally curving upwards; terminal segments < 13 cm, 3.5–5 cm diam, easily detached; tubercles 1.2–2.5 cm, 4–9 mm high. Spines: 6–14, generally < 2 cm, pale red-brown to dark brown, sheath pale yellow-brown. Flower: produced from areoles of older fruit; inner perianth < 2 cm, purple-red; filaments green, generally tinted purple. Fruit: fleshy, "chained" (flowers and fruits produced sequentially from areoles of older fruits, forming chain of fruits), green, tubercles 0 to shallow; base obtuse; spines 0. Seed: < 4 mm, generally sterile.
2n=22,33. Ocean bluffs, inland coastal scrub; < 450 m. South Coast, Channel Islands; Baja California. [Opuntia prolifera Engelm.] "Chained" fruit unique in genus in California. Apr–Jul [Online Interchange]
Unabridged note: Probable hybrid of Cylindropuntia alcahes (F.A.C. Weber) F.M. Knuth and Cylindropuntia cholla (F.A.C. Weber) F.M. Knuth, both of Baja California.

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Next taxon: Cylindropuntia ramosissima


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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 27 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Cylindropuntia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 27 2015

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click for enlargement Cylindropuntia prolifera
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2002 Dean Wm. Taylor

Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Cylindropuntia prolifera Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.