Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
Key to families | Table of families and genera
Previous taxon Index to accepted names and synonyms:
| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M |
| N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Next taxon

Cylindropuntia echinocarpa


Higher Taxonomy
Family: CactaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: 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.
Genera In Family: +- 125 genera, +- 1800 species: America (especially deserts), Africa; many cultivated, some edible. Note: Spines smaller, fewer (0) in shade forms; yellow spines blacken in age. Introduced species increasingly escape cultivation. Hybridization common in some genera.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce D. Parfitt, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Bruce D. Parfitt, Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: CylindropuntiaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: CHOLLA
Habit: 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.
Etymology: (Cylindric Opuntia) Note: Hybridization common. Young buds of some species used for food, many species for ornament. Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis newly described, added as native.
eFlora Treatment Author: Marc Baker, Bruce D. Parfitt & Jon Rebman
Reference: Baker & Cloud-Hughes 2014 Madroño 61:231--243; Mayer et al. 2011 Madroño 58:106--112
Unabridged Reference: Pinkava 2002 Succ Pl Res 6:59--98; Rebman & Pinkava 2001 Florida Entomol 84:474--483
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow) F.M. Knuth
Habit: Plant < 3 m. Stem: trunks 1 to few, main branches spreading to curving upwards, few, generally short; terminal segments generally < 10 cm, 2--3 cm diam, firmly attached; tubercle 6--15 mm, < 8 mm high. Spines: 9--20, < 4 cm, pale gray to translucent yellow, sheath generally same color. Flower: inner perianth < 2.5 cm, yellow-green; filaments green to pale yellow. Fruit: dry, proximal tubercles +- = distal; base obtuse; spines dense distally. Seed: < 6 mm, generally fertile. Chromosomes: 2n=22.
Ecology: Creosote-bush/white bur-sage, blackbush, saltbush, other desert and GB scrub; Elevation: 300--1600 m. Bioregional Distribution: s SNF, SNE, D; Distribution Outside California: to Utah, Arizona, northern Baja California. Flowering Time: Mar--Jun
Synonyms: Opuntia echinocarpa Engelm. & J.M. Bigelow; Cylindropuntia wigginsii (L.D. Benson) H. Rob.; Cylindropuntia ×wigginsii (L.D. Benson) H. Rob.; Opuntia wigginsii L.D. Benson; Opuntia ×wigginsii L.D. Benson
Unabridged Note: Although this sp. hybridizes with most co-occurring Cylindropuntia species, only a single sterile individual of putative Cylindropuntia echinocarpa × Cylindropuntia ramosissima is known.
Jepson eFlora Author: Marc Baker, Bruce D. Parfitt & Jon Rebman
Reference: Baker & Cloud-Hughes 2014 Madroño 61:231--243; Mayer et al. 2011 Madroño 58:106--112
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis
Next taxon: Cylindropuntia fosbergii

Botanical illustration including Cylindropuntia echinocarpabotanical illustration including Cylindropuntia echinocarpa

Please use this Google Form for Contact/Feedback

Citation for this treatment: Marc Baker, Bruce D. Parfitt & Jon Rebman 2022, Cylindropuntia echinocarpa, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 10,, accessed on July 22, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 22, 2024.

Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
click for image enlargement
©2012 Neal Kramer
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
click for image enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
click for image enlargement
©2013 Neal Kramer
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
click for image enlargement
©2013 Keir Morse
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
click for image enlargement
©2009 Steve Matson

More photos of Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Cylindropuntia echinocarpa:
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
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 occurrence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.

View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month Flowering-Fruiting Monthly Counts

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).