AZ Arboretums

Opuntia spinosior

cane chollaCommon: Cane cholla, cholla cane cactus, walkingstick cholla, handlegrip cholla, cardenche
Family: Cactaceae
Habitat: Desert grasslands and desert mountainsides, elevations 1,000 to 5000 ft. Southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and Sonora, Mexico.

Shrubby to treelike, to 8 feet. Joints are light green, to 12" long, 4 inches in diameter, with numerous, elongated tubercles or projections.

Joints are gray-green with purple tinges, the purple coloration becoming stronger in winter. Spines gray to pinkish, up to 20 per areole, straight, widely radiating, barbed and up to 3/8" long.

Flowers are variable in color - white, yellowish, red or purple, and up to 3 inches wide. Followed by yellow, egg-shaped fruit to 1-3/4" long and 1" in diameter. Fruits are eaten by cattle. 

Native Americans ate fruit raw or cooked. Cactus wrens nest in branches.

Souvenirs such as canes and lamp bases have been made from the plant's woody inner skeleton.