Opuntia leptocaulis DC.

  • Family: Cactaceae (cactus)
  • Common name: pencil cholla

    Tall cactus to 1.5 m (5 ft), with many small crowded branches. Stem segments cylindrical, to 30 cm (1 ft) long and less than 1 cm (0.4 in) thick, usually smooth. Spines usually 1 per areole, straight or slightly downturned, to 5 cm (2 in) long. Glochids few, very small. Flowers about 2 cm (0.8 in) long and wide, greenish or yellow. Fruits red, smooth, spineless but with glochids.

    Distribution: Southwestern Oklahoma to Arizona, south to Mexico.
    Habitat: Heavy soils, often near gypsum outcrops.
    NWI status: none
    Comment: Called pencil cholla because of the long thin joints. The specimens from Jefferson and Murray Counties may be escapes from cultivation. Opuntia is a reference to some plant that grew in the Greek town of Opus; leptocaulis means "slender-stemmed".

    Distribution in Oklahoma:

    Last update: 9/14/99
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