AZ Arboretums

Opuntia acanthocarpa

Buckhorn chollaCommon: Buckhorn cholla, Major cholla, Deer cholla, Tree cholla
Family: Opuntieae
Origin: Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, and the state of Sonora, Mexico
Habitat: Grows on desert mesas and slopes, between 500 and 3,500 in elevation.
Light: Needs strong sun
Soil: Best with good drainage

Open-branched, slender. Can grow as tall as 6-1/2 feet.

Thick cylindrical trunk. Main branches grow from trunk at acute angle. Ends of branches are tuberculate terminal shoots about 3 inches in length. Tubercles are elongated and flattened at the sides, with round or oval, whitish, felted areoles with short yellow glochids. 8-25 needle-shaped, dark brown spines, about 1 inches long.

Blooms in May with orange, brown, yellow or red flowers. Flowers appear only on terminal joints and are 2 inches long and across when open.

Pear-shaped fruit remains attached during winter. Seldom cultivated, it is propagated by cuttings.

The plant's generic name refers to the city of Opus, capital of the region of Locris in ancient Greece. Looks somewhat like deer antlers, hence the common name.