Where Does Cholla Cactus Grow

Chollas range in height from a few feet to 15 feet (4.5 m). They demand lots of direct sunlight and do best on well-drained soil. They can be seen thriving in low desert areas, desert foothills, and up mountain slopes to the verge of forests. The stunning cholla plant in bloom may be seen in the White Mountains of Arizona at a height of 5,040 feet (1,536 m), close to the site of the old Fort Apache.

Where is the Cholla wood found?

Due to its evergreen nature throughout its lifespan, cholla wood is regarded as a softwood. This results in a plant that grows quickly and produces material that is lighter than a lot of other kinds of driftwood. This plant, like the majority of succulents, can withstand extremely dry temperatures and endure protracted droughts. In addition to being utilized as hardscape for vivariums, it can also be used for construction, furniture, and decorating.


One of our collection’s most intriguing-looking pieces of driftwood is Cholla Wood. The cylindrical logs have several holes throughout their surface and are hollow inside. A stringy exterior that makes this wood particularly porous can be seen when examining the texture in greater detail.

The hue of this softwood will vary according on the species and the environment in which it is found. The outside surfaces of older timbers that have been exposed to the elements for a longer period of time will be a rustic-grayish tint. The wood also comes in reddish-brown and light brown shades.

Cholla Wood comes in a variety of sizes. Pieces might be as small as your finger or as big as an arm or leg, depending on the source. This is excellent for idea designs where numerous parts may be put together to create larger vivarium centerpieces. The weight of this driftwood is one last point that deserves to be brought up. One of the softer varieties of driftwood utilized in the pastime is cacti wood. This makes using it in big quantities simple.


The desert regions of North and South America, as well as the West Indies, are the source of cholla wood. Low humidity is the norm, and long stretches of drought will be followed by flash floods. Cholla plants have evolved in a way that makes it easier for them to retain water as a result of these tough environmental conditions. These cacti are also native to grasslands and lower mountain routes, which are typical biotypes.

Environmental Influence

Cholla Wood can have a mild effect on the regions in which it is placed. Gradually, tannin will seep into the water from this wood. This will soften the water’s texture and reduce its PH at the same time. Freshwater tanks that flourish in conditions below 7 PH will benefit from this. Water will frequently become discolored, giving off a yellowish tinge. Many enthusiasts presoak the wood before using it to avoid this, but further water changes may still be necessary thereafter.

Vivarium Type

Both terrariums and aquariums benefit from cholla wood. After a day or two, this adaptable wood sinks readily and decomposes underwater, releasing nutritious food for invertebrates. Any vivarium that doesn’t require a high water hardness can use this wood without worry. The following is a suggested list of vivaria that typically contain Cholla Cacti Wood:

The cane cholla grows where?

The desert regions of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas, as well as Durango, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potos, are within the cane cholla’s range.

[3] It grows hardy for a cactus and occurs at elevations of 1,200 to 2,300 m (3,900 to 7,500 ft) (USDA Zone 5A). [4]

The cholla stands out as the only tall green plant in some areas of its distribution, which are frequently just below the pinyon-juniper belt and can be surrounded by low grasses and forbs that are brown year-round. In “gardens,” plants can be arranged in thickets or spaced at a few times their width.

In Australia, this species has become noxious invasive in former mining areas and around waterways. There, it is referred to as the Devil’s rope cactus or Devil’s rope pear. [5][6] It grows in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Victoria, and South Australia and has been designated a noxious weed in New South Wales. [5] [6][7]

What kind of desert grows cholla cacti?

No man is an island, and neither are any branches of science. Although we tend to think of geology, natural science, physics, and biology as closed boxes, everything in science is actually interrelated. There is so much to see in the area that is not “strictly” geological. I find it difficult (in the sense that I dislike doing it) to take only the “geology” from my travels and ignore everything else.

In order to show you all the naturalistic and scientific aspects that I come across but which, regrettably, do not find their position in the other series, I have decided to establish the side blog series “Beyond Geology.”

The Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, which are located to the southeast and northwest, respectively, meet near Joshua Tree. In the park, a gradual change in elevation controls the transition of average temperature between the cooler Mojave and hotter Colorado Deserts. Higher altitudes favor species that resemble trees, such as the famous Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia), which gave the park its name and are better suited to the region’s occasionally freezing temperatures. Lower altitude, warmer climates promote shrub-like and cactus vegetation, which are better equipped to withstand dry conditions.

A suitable environment and an abundance of resources combine in some areas of the park to offer the perfect setting for the creation of natural gardens brimming with desert flora and wildlife. This is the situation with the nearby Cottonwood Visitor Center’s Cholla Cactus Garden. The Cholla Cactus Garden walk is a brief loop that offers the opportunity to view a collection of stunning Teddy Bear Chollas (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), companion shrubs, and cactus.

Many of them had already begun to blossom when we last came in March. You might enjoy a garden in full bloom if you go between March and May!

That species—is it alien? Stay on the route and don’t bring trash there to preserve the wilderness!

The trailhead is situated at 33,92530, -115,92889. If you’re considering a trip to the park, you absolutely must see this wild location!

Does Wyoming have cholla cactus?

This is another tiny ball cactus, but you can tell it from from the other two because its spines are born on ridges (known as ribs) rather than tubercles. Additionally, flower buds grow down on the plant rather than at the top (Yellow arrow pointing to rib with a flower bud). The green-flowered hedgehog cactus can be found from Texas and New Mexico to South Dakota and Wyoming in the western Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.

The Laramie Range, less than 20 miles east of Laramie (specimen here), and Virginia Dale, Colorado, a former stage stop, both lie within 30 miles of Sheep Mountain, respectively, and are the closest (to Sheep Mountain) reported distributions of this species. On Sheep Mountain, I have never observed Echinocereus viridiflorus, although I believe it might be there on the lower slopes. I would love to hear from you if you see it.

The plant produces an inch-wide, greenish-yellow flower in late May or early June (thus the species name viridiflorus, which means green-flowered). Observe how challenging it is to see the plant’s top, which is located to the left of the flower. These ball cacti are frequently well-camouflaged when not in bloom.

This is the reason you shouldn’t roam the nearby plains with tennis shoes. (Image courtesy of Marc Beckstrom.)

Wyoming’s grasslands are home to many plains prickly pear cacti. Although much less common than on the prairie, it is nevertheless rather simple to discover on Sheep Mountain. Opuntia polyacantha has one of the broadest geographic ranges of any North American cactus, extending from Texas all the way up to Saskatchewan in the north and from British Columbia all the way down to Southern California in the west. This particular type of prickly pear exhibits great regional variation in appearance, like many other widely distributed prickly pears.

In our region, the Opuntia polyacantha flowers from late June to early July. The gorgeous blossoms are often a shade of yellow and measure between 2 and 3 inches in diameter.

Sheep Mountain does not have any of the three Wyoming cacti species, which comprise two prickly pears (Opuntia fragilis and Opuntia macrorhiza) and one ball cactus (Escobaria missouriensis). Opuntia macrorhiza is found in the Great Plains and the Black Hills in eastern Wyoming, whereas Opuntia fragilis is found in Sweetwater County. Escobaria missouriensis is also found in the Great Plains and the Black Hills, as well as in Park County (1). You may quickly find more details about these plants by searching the USDA Plants Database.

Opuntia erinaceae, an eighth species of cactus, is included in Dorn and Dorn (1), despite the fact that I just informed you that there are only seven kinds of cactus in Wyoming. Be not afraid; Opuntia erinaceae has not disappeared from Wyoming since the Vascular Plants of Wyoming was published. However, more recent taxonomic research has revealed O. erinaceae to be a subspecies of O. polyacantha (2). The cunning botanists!

Is cholla fruit edible?

For many generations, the Sonoran Desert’s springtime signaled the beginning of the cholla bud harvest. Additionally, there is renewed interest in the prickly plants due to the need for sustainable, regional cuisine.

Recently, the Native Seeds/SEARCH organization provided a training on gathering and preparing desert food. Arizona attracted participants from all over. The session was run by ethnobotanist Martha Ames Burgess in the Tucson Mountains, in her home.

The Sonoran Desert is home to a variety of cholla plants, including the red-flowered Christmas cholla, chain fruit cholla, pencil cholla, and teddybear cholla. Cholla plants have a dense layer of needle-sharp spines covering them, but all of their buds and fruits are edible.

Burgess advised carrying a comb for the larger fragments and tweezers for the smaller spines.

The workshop attendees followed Burgess into the desert, where staghorn chollas are abundant, carrying their bags, buckets, metal tongs, and hand-held whisk brooms.

“Could you describe the types of things we’re trying to harvest, please? questioned a workshop attendee.

Burgess indicated a flower bud that was perched above a pale green knob. The edible component is that green knob. It resembles a grape in size. Burgess said that the shimmering speck that appeared to be a dew drop on top of the flower bud actually has the viscosity of honey.

“An extra-floral nectary is the cause. It was a mystery to scientists until they started to observe. Ants will be seen climbing this plant and munching like pigs at a trough, she warned. “The plant is the one that has figured out how to feed its helpers. The ants or other munching animals will repel the packrat. Perhaps ground squirrels with round tails, perhaps rapacious birds, perhaps even cactus bugs. So, there is a symbiosis.

When Burgess first arrived in Tucson in the 1960s, Juanita Ahill, a Tohono O’odham elder, taught her everything she needed to know about desert foods and remedies.

According to Burgess, “She would respect the plants and express her gratitude to them. She would sacrifice a hair from her head as an offering to the plant. She had provided water and gorp in my presence. It has to do with having a grasp of how the world operates. You can’t take without giving something back.

After the participants had gathered a few cups of cholla buds, Burgess demonstrated how to roll the buds on a metal grate with a hand-held whisk broom to remove the spines. She gathered a handful of the cleaned buds after a little while. She remarked, “They feel like rubber balls.

But they aren’t quite ready to eat. Oxalic acid serves as the biological defense against herbivores in all cholla buds and fruit. The buds can’t be eaten uncooked since they irritate the throat. Oxalic acid simply has to be boiled for 15 minutes. Burgess led everyone back to her patio where she heated a kettle of water to boiling temperature on a Coleman stove.

They resemble cocktail party gherkin pickles when stabbed with toothpicks and distributed. The initial bite has a sticky consistency that is similar to that of okra. However, the flavors were likened favorably by workshop attendees to Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and artichokes.

Burgess cooked a few cups of boiling buds in a mole sauce while tossing a handful of the chopped buds into a salad. The delicacy from the desert is a delicious addition to salads, salsas, and other dishes.

In Arizona, are chollas protected?

Once more, the Arizona native plant statute does not provide protection for cactus skeletons or any other dead plant or plant parts. However, we strongly advise obtaining at the very least verbal consent from the proprietor before approaching private property.

How do you take cholla cuttings?

These cacti can be multiplied by dividing their stems, which is done organically by dropping them from the plant’s limbs. If you decide to manually propagate them, cut the stems and replant the cuttings in dry, sandy soil, being careful not to overly harm the plants. Wear gloves as well to protect your hands from the cholla’s sharp spines.


Despite not being native to Travis County, Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree cholla) is native to Texas, as seen on this USDA Plant Profile map. However, there is no reason why it shouldn’t thrive if you are ready to give the right atmosphere. This page features many images from Southwest Colorado Wildflowers, but there is no mention of fungus, so let’s go a little farther.

Given the environmental conditions they can endure but the lack of fungus cures, we believe you’ll find the comments on this plant in this Dave’s Garden forum to be interesting. More details about the plant are available from the Sonoran Desert Digital Library.

The Arizona Cooperative Extension Pests of Agave, Aloe, Cactus, and Yucca website is the last webpage to mention fungus. To locate “Fungal infections of leaves and pads,” scroll down to Page 6. The Cactus Longhorn Beetle was described in the section on insects on page 7 as follows:

“Prickly pear and cholla cacti (Cylindropuntia species), barrel cacti (Echinocactus and Ferocactus species), immature saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea), and other species of cacti are all targeted by this beetle. The adult beetle measures between 1 and 11/4 inches (2.5 and 3 cm) in length and is shiny black with noticeable white patterns on the antennae. The adult beetle’s antennae are frequently longer than the body as a whole. Feeding on the edges of prickly pear pads or the terminal buds of other cacti causes damage to the plants (Fig. 18).

When the adults lay their eggs, the eggs hatch, and the larvae burrow into the stems of cholla cactus, the beetle attacks them. Waste (frass) is forced out of the entry holes and deposits itself on the canes as a crusty black layer. Larvae may eat their way into plant roots, causing the plants to wilt and die.

By manually removing the pests from infected plants, the cactus longhorn beetle can be controlled. Early in the morning or late at night, particularly after warm summer rains, is when the beetles are most active and easiest to find and eliminate. Because the spines act as a natural defense, very spiny species are less likely to suffer injury from the beetle. Given that hand picking is successful and that populations are often not high, chemical control is not advised.”

This may or may not apply to your cholla, but the article’s great graphics make it possible for you to locate your issue elsewhere.

We discovered Bacterial Necrosis of Saguaro Cactus from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. According to this source, cholla cacti have also been observed to have the same disease. It provides guidance on how to treat and remove the rot. Again, you will have to decide which therapy, if any, you choose to employ because we are not plant pathologists and cannot see the cactus.