Tree Cholla, Candelabrum Cactus, Cane Cactus, Walkingstick Cholla, etc.
Syn.: Cereus imbricatus Haw.
Syn.: Cactus imbricatus (Haw.) Lem
Syn.: Grusonia imbricata (Haw.) G.D. Rowley
Syn.: Opuntia imbricata (Haw.) DC.
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.
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. Sometimes she has some common name that I can look up which does help. 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 of an old book on cactus, so I figured I could easily find the name anyway. Over a year later…
When I brought this cactus home, I put it in the bed behind the old foundation of my grandparent’s 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.
While my computer was out for repair 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…
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. Then I got a headache so I didn’t do any further research at the time.
Upon further research later…
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.
The Cylindropuntia imbricata can grow to a height of 15’ but their typical height is around 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 somewhere else. Even though the fruit are spiny, some animals, even cows, eat them and then defecate the seeds.
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. OUCH!!!
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.
Thanks for visiting this page and I hope you found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about this cacti I would like to hear from you.