Staghorn Cholla

Cylindropuntia Versicolor

The latin species name for staghorn cholla (versicolor) reflects the wide range of colors of its long-lasting flowers, which are produced in spring and early summer; they may be red, yellow, purple or intermediate shades.

American Southwest

Buckhorn cholla and Staghorn cholla have a similar appearance, and often hybridize with each other. Both species have variable flower color, mainly red or yellow, but can also be orange, pink, purple, green or brown. The best way to distinguish the two is by observing the fruits: 

  • Buckhorn cholla has dry, spiny, tuberculate (rounded protrusions) fruits that fall off after several months
  • Staghorng cholla fruits are fleshy, usually spineless, ad persist on the plant for more than a year

Chollas are a favorite nesting site for some desert birds because the spines offer them protection from predators.

Flowers: J F M A M J J A S O N D
Status: Native
Origin: Southern Arizona and into Mexico
Family: Cactaceae
Size: 6′ tall
Sun: Full
Watering: None when established
Growth Rate: Moderate
Soil: Tolerant
Temperature: Tolerant
Disease and Pests:
Uses: Fruits for wildlife, nectar plant, bird nesting habitat, larval host for the Staghorn Cholla Moth  (Euscirrhopterus cosyra)

Photo by axhela


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