Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Cylindropuntia imbricata (tree cholla)

The tree cholla is a cactus closely related to the prickly pear (Opuntia) and is equally spiny.
Cylindropuntia imbricata

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haw.) F.M.Knuth

Common name: 

tree cholla, walking stick cholla

Conservation status: 

Least Concern (LC) according to conservation assessments made in the New Cactus Lexicon, following the IUCN Red List criteria.


Dry grassland in sandy and rocky areas.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, decoration, dead stems used as walking sticks, food in time of famine.

Known hazards: 

Spines are barbed and hazardous and as with all thorny plants can result in secondary infections.


Genus: Cylindropuntia

About this species

The so-called tree cholla is not actually a tree at all, but a succulent shrub, which in favourable conditions can grow to the height of a small tree. It is normally seen in Europe as a greenhouse plant and has striking large (but short-lived) flowers.

Sir David Prain, one time Director of Kew and editor of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine wrote the text accompanying the plate of this plant. He noted that the plant illustrated came from Sir Edmund Loder of Leonardslee, Sussex, where ‘a plant which he had himself collected in Colorado in 1878 flowered early in August 1908’.


Cereus imbricatus Haw., Opuntia imbricata (Haw.) DC., Grusonia imbricata (Haw.) G.D.Rowley


main info

Courses at Kew

Students learn about plant taxonomy and identification

Kew offers a variety of specialist training courses in horticulture, conservation and plant science.

Why People Need Plants

image of book cover

A compelling book from Kew Publishing that explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of all of us.