Cylindropuntia bigelovii (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth
Opuntia ciribe Engelmann ex. J. M. Coulter 1896
Cylindropuntia ciribe (Engelmann ex. J. M. Coulter) F. M. Knuth 1935
Opuntia bigelovii var. ciribe (Engelmann ex. J. M. Coulter) W. T. Marshall 1941
Cylindropuntia bigelovii var. ciribe (Engelmann ex. J. M. Coulter) Rebman 2001
Opuntia bigelovii Engelm.
Teddy bear cholla, teddybear cholla, chollo de oso, golden-spined jumping cholla, guerra, vellas de coyote
Teddy bear cholla (pronounced “KOY-ya”) is a common North American native within its range. From a distance, the densely intermingled golden spines produce soft-looking, rounded branch tips that look a little like, well, teddy bears. They are found in deserts at elevations between 100-300' (30-91 m).
Identification: These multiply branched cacti are up to 6½' (2 m) high, sometimes looking like trees, other times like shrubs. Each stem segment is 1½-7" (4-18 cm) long and ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) in diameter, and greenish-purple to purple in color. The areoles from which the spines appear are tan to brown; spines are in groups of 6-8, ⅜-⅝" (1-1.8 cm) long. The spines are yellow to golden in color, and so dense that they intermingle with each other, producing a golden (or silvery) fuzzy appearance that looks soft from a distance. Flowers are usually yellowish green, but may be yellow, gold, bronze, red, rose, or magenta. Wrinkled, leathery spineless fruits are yellowish green or reddish in color and less than ¾" (2 cm) long.
These cholla, like their cousins jumping cholla, have a reputation for launching attacks on unwary passers-by. I can personally attest to this, having found a good-sized clump embedded in the leather of my shoe. There are two reasons for this reputation. First, cholla have glochids, tiny groups of spines that detach easily and implant themselves into skin, causing immediate irritation. The second reason is that small portions of chollas routinely break off, littering the desert floor, attaching easily to passing victims, and growing new cacti wherever they end up.
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on nau.edu
Cylindropuntia bigelovii at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on cals.arizona.edu
Cylindropuntia bigelovii at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on Wikipedia
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on Desert-tropicals.com
Cylindropuntia bigelovii at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
Cylindropuntia bigelovii at the Living Desert
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on eFloras
Cylindropuntia bigelovii on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network
Cylindropuntia bigelovii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.