AZ Arboretums

Opuntia bigelovii

Teddy bear cholla

Common: Teddy bear cholla, jumping cholla
Family: Opuntieae
Origin: Southern Nevada, Arizona, California and the northern part of Sonora and Baja California in Mexico. Occurs to 3,000 ft. elevation.
Light: Needs strong sun
Soil: Best with good drainage

Excellent choice for cactus gardens. Gives desert effect to landscapes. Attracts wildlife. Cylindrical.

Semishrub or miniature tree. Generally has central stem which becomes trunklike and many short lateral branches. Central branches are erect, and others horizontal or semi-erect.

Grows as tall as 6 feet. Branches are light green, 2 to 6 inches long with a diameter of about 2 inches. Round areoles are white with yellow glochids, and bear many ferocious spines.Since the spines completely cover the plant, it appears to be a pale golden color.

Flowers appear on the tips of the stems at the top of the plant. They are purple, 1-1/2 inches long, although there are also yellow-flowered forms. Fruit is yellow and pear-shaped. The fruit persists throughout the winter, and is hidden by the densely-spined branches. May be grown outdoors in mild climates.

Propagation is by cutting. Even the fruit will rot from its tubercles and produce new plants.

The topmost joints detach so easily they seem almost to jump out at you. Resist the temptation to touch the cholla; its tiny barbs are difficult to remove!