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Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cylindropuntia imbricataSynonym: Opuntia imbricata (Cholla)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)
 

Semi-deserts. Sandy, rocky openings and grasslands. Summer.
BLM lands near Hovenweep National Monument, Utah, June 11, 2007.

In the Four Corners area these tall and spreading Cacti are found in just a few locations in southwestern Colorado, one in the very southeast corner of Utah, none in Arizona, but they are much more common in New Mexico.  Main branches are stout and thick, spines are numerous but do not obscure the main branch, and flowers are large, numerous, and attractive.  The plants thrive on hot areas of sand, rock, and grasslands where they commonly grow four to seven feet tall and four feet wide.  The population shown in the photographs on this web site grow to at most five feet tall and wide. 

The abundant populations of this plant in central New Mexico and eastern Colorado commonly have a strong central trunk branching a 6-16 inches above the ground and the branches curve somewhat and then rise vertically.  The plants shown on this web site are typically four feet tall, they branch near ground level, and the branches can be horizontal for three feet.  These characteristics and others lead some botanists to consider these plants hybrids between C. imbricata and C. whipplei.  Compare the photographs on these two pages of C. imbricata with those of C. whipplei The hybrid is called Cylindropuntia viridiflora (or Cylindropuntia x viridiflora) and its type locale is Santa Fe.  Click for information about C. viridiflora. More information.   Some Cactus experts think that the plants shown on this page are a hybrid that has again crossed with C. imbricata, some think it is a hybrid without the back cross, and some think it is not a hybrid.

The genus and species was named by F. M. Knuth in 1935.  The genus name is for the cylindrical stem shape of this Cactus, formerly in the Opuntia genus (which has flattened stems).  "Imbricata" means shingled and refers to the shingle-like arrangements of the tubercles  --  the long, narrow bumps along the stem.

Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cylindropuntia imbricataSynonym: Opuntia imbricata (Cholla)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-deserts. Sandy, rocky openings and grasslands. Summer.
BLM lands near Hovenweep National Monument, Utah, June 17, 2007.

The three or four rows of tubercles immediately below the flower are soft, new growth from 2007.  Notice that the tubercles below this section are longer, wider, and a lighter shade of green.  Spines on the new growth are at first soft and short but they will stiffen and lengthen within a few weeks.  Also see the photograph immediately below for the contrast between the new and old growth.

Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cylindropuntia imbricataSynonym: Opuntia imbricata (Cholla)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-deserts. Sandy, rocky openings and grasslands. Summer.
BLM lands near Hovenweep National Monument, Utah, June 11, 2007.

The dark green growth and the flowers all grew in the first few weeks of the spring of 2007.  The lighter green stem and longer spines are the growth from 2006.

Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cylindropuntia imbricataSynonym: Opuntia imbricata (Cholla)
Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Semi-deserts. Sandy, rocky openings and grasslands. Summer.
BLM lands near Hovenweep National Monument, Utah, June 11, 2007.

As the new growth in the upper and lower left indicates, not all new growth produces flowers.

Click for second page of Cylindropuntia imbricata photographs.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Cylindropuntia imbricata