Cylindropuntia versicolor (Engelm. ex J.M. Coult.) F.M. Knuth
Opuntia versicolor Engelm. ex J.M. Coult.
Staghorn Cholla, Morada Cholla
Staghorn cholla (pronounced “koy-ya”) is found in the Sonoran Desert. Cylindropuntia means “cylindrical opuntia,” that is, cacti associated with the prickly pear family, but with round stem segments instead of Mickey Mouse ears. Versicolor refers to the astounding range of flower colors.
Identification: May appear in shrublike or treelike forms, branching profusely, reaching 6½' (2 m) in height. The stem segments greenish purple to purple, and 1½-7" (4-18 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) around. Tubercules (ropy bumps on stems) are 3 to 5 times longer than they are wide. There are 7-10 spines per group, ¼-⅝" (6.3-15 mm) long, reddish in color. Flowers may be yellowish green, yellow, bronze, red, rose, or magenta. Fruits are fleshy, with few or no spines, ¾-1½" (2-4 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) around.
Staghorn cholla is similar to buckthorn cholla:
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|Plant||3-13' (1-4 m) high, shrublike or treelike.||Tree- or shrublike, to 6½' (2 m) tall.|
|Flowers||Colored red, brick red, orange, yellow, yellow-green, pink, or bronze; up to 2" (5.7 cm) around.||Up to 3" (7.6 cm) around. Yellowish green, yellow, bronze, red, rose, or magenta.|
|Stem||Segments green or purple, 4-20" (10-50 cm) long and ¾-1" (2-3 cm) around. Spines are in groups of 6-20 or more, white to gray, tipped with yellow, ⅝-1¼" (1.6-3.2 cm) long.||Stem segments greenish purple to purple, 1½-7" (4-18 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) around. Tubercules (ropy bumps on stems) are 3 to 5 times longer than they are wide. 7-10 spines per group, ¼-⅝" (6.3-15 mm) long, reddish.|
|Fruit||Tan, about ⅛" (3.2 mm) around, deeply wrinkled, usually covered with long spines.||Fleshy, with few or no spines, ¾-1½" (2-4 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) around.|
USDA Zones: 9-11
Cylindropuntia versicolor at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert
Cylindropuntia versicolor on cals.arizona.edu
Cylindropuntia versicolor on Desert-tropicals.com
Cylindropuntia versicolor at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library
Cylindropuntia versicolor on Tucson-Gardener.com
Cylindropuntia versicolor on eFloras
Anderson, Edward F., The Cactus Family, Timber Press, 2001, p. 214
Cylindropuntia versicolor description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.