Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa – Buck-horn Cholla
Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa
Synonym: Opuntia acanthocarpa
Common Names: Buck-horn Cholla, Buckhorn Cholla
Growth Habit: Shrub, Cactus
Arizona Native Status: Native
Flower Color: Orange, Red, Yellow, Pink, Yellow-green
Flowering Season: Spring. These cacti bloom in late April and May.
Height: To 6 feet (1.8 m) tall or more
Description: The flowers are 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide and have rusty red (occasionally green) anther filaments and a white to pale green (occasionally reddish) style. The flowers are followed by bumpy, spiny, tan-colored fruits that dry out and drop off before the plant flowers again next year. The stems are branched like a buck's antlers and are spiny with usually 6 to 20 spines per areole.
The similar Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor) has smooth, plump, mostly spineless, green, purplish, or reddish fruits that remain on the plant while flowering, while the also similar Walkingstick Cactus (Cylindropuntia spinosior) has very bumpy, spineless, yellow fruits that remain on the plant while flowering.
Culturally Significant Plant – Native Americans harvested the unopened flower buds, de-spined them, and then baked them for use as food.
Edible – The unopened flower buds are edible if cooked, but the spines must be removed first.
Legal Status – Protected Native Plant (Salvage Restricted)
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Cactaceae – Cactus family
Genus: Cylindropuntia (Engelm.) Kreuzinger
Species: Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa (Engelm. & Bigelow) F.M. Knuth – buck-horn cholla
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