Plants photographed on Kyffhäuser
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Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haw.) F. M. Knuth

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Cylindropuntia imbricata

Image 1
20 Dec 2008

Cylindropuntia imbricata

Image 2
20 Dec 2008

Cylindropuntia imbricata

Image 3
20 Dec 2008

Cylindropuntia imbricata

Image 4
Close-up of stem
20 Dec 2008

Family: Cactaceae
Full name: Cylindropuntia imbricata (Haw.) F. M. Knuth
ID status: Fairly certain
Afrikaans common name(s): Kabelturksvy, Imbrikaatkaktus
English common name(s): Imbricate prickly pear, Imbricate cactus, Cane cholla, Walking stick cholla, Tree cholla, Chainlink cactus, Devil's rope cactus
Synonym(s): Opuntia imbricata (Haw.) DC. (1828)
Cereus imbricatus Haw. (1821)
Grusonia imbricata (Haw.) G.D. Rowley (2006)
Status: Alien
Description: A spiny, much-branched succulent shrub growing up to 2m high with an erect main stem. Old branches hang downwards and the stems are dull grey-green with raised edges giving the effect of woven rope. The spines, which are up to 30mm long, are initially covered with loose, white papery sheaths. It has small leaves and showy purple-red flowers appear from November to January followed by yellow succulent fruit. (from

The above-ground part consists of much-branched cylindrical stems, the end joints being about 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter. The joints, unlike those of some chollas, are hard to detach. The stems are highly tubercular (lumpy)[9] with a pattern of long oval lumps. A typical height is about 1 m (3 ft), but exceptionally it can grow to 4.6 m (15 ft) with a "trunk" diameter of 25 cm (9.8 in).[10] The width is often similar to or somewhat greater than the height. The stems are armed with clusters of up to about 10 red to pink[9] spines, which may be 3 cm (1.2 in) long[9] and are barbed and sharp enough to easily penetrate leather gardening gloves.[11] The stems and fruits also have many spines or "glochids" about 1 mm (0.04 in) long[9] that can detach and stick in the skin. There are two kinds of stems or "cladodes": long plagiotropic, bearing flowers at the ends and falling off after a few years, and long orthotropic, primarily serving for support and transport and staying on the plant. Plagiotropic stems grow in a star- or crown-like pattern around a central orthotropic stem.[12] This species blooms in late spring or early summer. The flowers are purple or magenta, rarely rose-pink, about 5 cm (2.0 in) wide.[9] The fruits are yellowish, tubercular like the stems,[9] and shaped something like the frustum of a cone, with a hollow at the wide end where the flower fell off; they are often mistaken for flowers. The plant retains them all winter. They are dry and not tasty, though the Indians of Arizona and New Mexico are said to have eaten them.[10] In addition to sexual reproduction, the tree cholla reproduces when stem joints fall to the ground and take root. Thus, this species spreads, and its spread is hard to control, especially where animals defecate seeds and carry stem joints stuck to their hide some distance from the parent plant. (Some cows, "cholla eaters", learn to eat cholla fruits despite the pain.) "Waves of invasion" typically occur four or five years after drought combined with grazing, probably because this combination exposes soil on which the stem joints can take root.[12] (from

Link(s) African Plant Database
JSTOR Plant Science
Kew Herbarium Catalogue
BGBM Berlin-Dahlem - Virtual Herbarium
Züricher Herbarien
iNaturalist (Namibia / Alex Dreyer)
iNaturalist (Namibia)
iNaturalist (southern Africa)
Flora of Zimbabwe
Fleurs de notre Terre - Galerie Namibie
Tree Atlas of Namibia
Content last updated: 18 Apr 2024

Note: The identification of some of the plants on this website is not 100% certain. Any comments will be highly appreciated. I would also be willing to supply higher resolution images upon request. Please contact me at the e-mail address given below.

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Last updated on 18 Apr 2024

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