Virginia Tech Dendrology

pencil cholla Cactaceae Cylindropuntia arbuscula (Engelm.) F.M. Knuth Listen to the Latin symbol: CYAR14
Leaf: Reduced to a spine covered in a tan sheath, arranged in obvious areoles with up to 4 stiff spines per areole, usually with one long spine to 2 inches that points down.
Flower: Yellow-green to reddish, 1 1/2 inch, displayed at the joint tips, early summer.
Fruit: Barrel-shaped or pear-shaped, initially fleshy, green and red, turning yellow-brown, to 1 1/2 inch, with spines, persisting.
Twig: Segmented, each segment gray-green to purplish, to 6 inches long (often 3-4 inches) and 1/2 inch in diameter.
Bark: Brown-black, becoming rough and scaly.
Form: Shrubby segmented cactus branching very low to the ground, to 10 feet, heavily branched.
Looks like: buckhorn cholla
leaf fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Cylindropuntia arbuscula is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting pencil cholla.
External Links: USDA Plants Database - Horticulture Information
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson