Cylindropuntia imbricata on 2-11-17, #309-3.

Hello, folks! Soon after I put this cactus in the flower bed it was covered by the Marigolds so I basically forgot all about it. The first photo I took, since I can’t find any earlier ones, was this one dated February 11, 2017. It didn’t have that “shoot” sticking out of it when it was given to me.

My computer hard drive went on the blink at 12:40 AM on July 1 and I just got it back on July 6. I almost went NUTS! Having ideas and work to do online and with my photos, plant documents, etc. and not having a computer!!! I used to write everything down in a notebook and then would write the documents for the blog. But, since I knew the computer would be fixed soon, I just took this time to rest, take photos and do “some” work I had been putting off.

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 4-20-17.

Tree Cholla, Candelabrum Cactus, Cane Cactus, Walkingstick Cholla, etc.
Cylindropuntia imbricata
sil-in-drop-UN-shee-uh im-brih-KAY-tuh
Syn.: Cereus imbricatus Haw.
Syn.: Cactus imbricatus (Haw.) Lem
Syn.: Grusonia imbricata (Haw.) G.D. Rowley
Syn.: Opuntia imbricata (Haw.) DC.

According to The Plant List, Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haw.) F.M. Knuth is the correct and accepted scientific name of this cactus. It was described as such by Frederik Marcus Knuth in Kaktus-ABC in 1935. It was first described as Cereus imbricatus by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Succulent Plantarum Succulentarum in 1819. BUT….

I was given this cactus my Mrs. Wagler of Wagler’s Greenhouse in 2016. She said it was hardy here and I wouldn’t have to bring it inside for the winter. BUT, even though I wanted this cactus, there was a problem. NO label as with so many of her plants but sometimes she has a common name that I can look up. I accepted this cactus because, 1) I wanted it, 2) I couldn’t help myself, and 3) I don’t use my own advice when it comes to buying plants that are not labeled… Then again, I wasn’t buying this plant. It was a gift so I am off the hook. I remembered seeing this cactus in a photo in an old book on cactus, so I figured I could easily find the name anyway. Over a year later…

Cylindropuntia imbricata doing something weird on 5-5-17, # 325-2.

When I brought this cactus home, I put it in the bed behind the old foundation of my grandparents house. Along with a few other succulents I was experimenting with, they were soon covered up by the Marigold ‘Red Brocade’ also growing in the bed. Then, months later, after a hard freeze and in the middle of the night, a thought popped into my head. “OH CRAP, I forgot about the cactus!” I grabbed the flashlight and went to check on it and it was just fine.

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 5-27-17, #335-1.

While my computer was out for repair last week I had a lot of time on my hands. SO, one evening I decided to try and find the name of this cactus. Unfortunately, I could not find the book I was thinking about, but I did find another one I had forgotten about. The book is titled “Cactus Of The Southwest” by W. Huben Earle, copyright 1963. Getting past the technical description of this cactus, it stated that the origin was unknown but it was introduced into England in 1830 by Loddiges (now I have to figure out who he was). It further said it could be found growing in Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and northern Mexico…

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 5-31-17, #339-44.

It also mentioned other synonyms not mentioned in The Plant List, Llifle, or the CactusGuide. It mentioned Cactus cylindricus James 1783. SO, I checked that name out on The Plant List and it says that name is unresolved as is Cactus cylindricus Lam., so it says, is also an unresolved name. SO, the same name unresolved with two men wanting the credit. BUT, the old book gives the date 1783 for J. James description while The Plant List says 1825. The other guy, who’s name abbreviation is “Lam.”, documentation is dated 1783. His name is SO LONG I didn’t even want to write it down. There are two synonyms with the same name documented by Ortega in 1800 and Vellozo in 1825. It also lists Opuntia magna and Opuntia spinotecta by Griffiths both in 1914. I have a headache now so I didn’t do any further name research.

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 6-11-17, #343-5.

Upon further research…

The Cylindropuntia imbricata is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, including cooler areas not known to other cacti. They have also naturalized in arid regions in South Africa, South America, the Mediterranean basin and Australia.

There are many common names for this cactus including Tree Cholla, Giant Tree Cholla, Candelabrum Cactus, Cane Cactus, Walkingstick Cactus, Tree Cactus, Tope Pear, Hudson Pear, Rosea Cactus, Devil’s Rope Cactus, Chain-Link Cactus, Cane Cholla and Coyote Candles.

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 6-18-17, #345-8.

The Cylindropuntia imbricata can grow to a height of 15’ but their typical height is a round 3’. They have two kinds of stems (cladodes). The main stem (orthotropic) that supports the plant grows plagiotropic stems which grow in a star-like pattern. These produce purple or magenta flowers in late spring to early summer. The flowers are followed by yellowish fruit which are tubercular (lumpy) like the stems.

In some areas this cactus has become invasive because the stem joints fall off and take root or they get stuck in animals fur and fall off.. Even though the fruit are spiny, some animals, even cows, eat them and then dedicate the seeds.

Cylindropuntia imbricata on 6-24-17, #349-18.

According to the Wikipedia, The plants are grown as ornamentals . Their dead stems decay to leave a hollow tube with a pattern of lengthwise slits which can be used as canes or to make curios. The Roman Catholic Penitentes used to tie fresh stems of this cactus to their back during Holy Week processions.

Well, I am relieved that I finally found the name of this cactus. To think all I had to do was open an old book instead of spending hours online searching photos.

I took photos today but many of them were no good. It says “The file could not be opened. It may be damaged or use a file format that Preview doesn’t recognize.” Maybe it is time to buy a new photo card (or whatever you call them). Most of the photos come out fine but some are half there. The photo I took of this cactus and the Sempervivum ‘Killer’ were on the same photo even though I took two separate photos (of course).

I moved the Cylindropuntia imbricata to the, umm, whatever you call it, with the Sempervivum x ‘Killer’. I also moved what was left of the sedum kamischaticum ‘variegatum’ to this spot. As you can see it has a lot of company… seeds from the Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ and Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar). The Jewels of Opar have not been in this spot for 2 years and the seeds still come up. Actually, I don’t think they even came up last year. This “whatever you call it” came from an old coal burning boiler a friend and I took out of a house in the early 1980’s. It has made a great planter.

One thing I can say about this cactus is that it is definitely entertaining. Most of the cactus in my collection just sit there and I have to measure them once a year to see if they are even growing. This one is always doing something new as you can see from the photos.

Well, that’s all for this post! Hope you enjoyed the information as much as I enjoyed the research and finding the name for this cactus! Stay well, happy, healthy, prosperous and most of all… GET DIRTY!!!


  1. Jim R says:

    “To think all I had to do was open an old book instead of spending hours online searching photos.”

    Old books are a good thing. Others have done all that ground work of looking and thinking and writing. They put it in the books to make it easier for us to find.


    • LOL! That may be very true for many things. As far as plant name research is concerned, you need to be up to date because many plants names have changed many times. Every time I add a new plant to my list I check to make sure the names are right with several sources. I first start with The Plant List then I double check with Llifle. If they both match, then great. If not, I check with GRIN and so on. Many authors that have written books on cactus and succulents aren’t to happy about all the name changes. I have a lot of cookbooks but most of the time when I need a recipe I look online. So much easier. I guess books these days are for when the computer is on the blink or the internet isn’t working. That is pretty sad actually. Thanks for the comment, Jim!


  2. Interesting to see how it has developed with time.


  3. bittster says:

    Cool little plant. I like your thought process when you figure out why you’re allowed to add one more… I do the same thing.


Please leave a comment. I would like to hear from you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.