Cylindropuntia bigelovii
"Teddy Bear Cholla"

A Cylindropuntia bigelovii cutting.

     Native to California and Arizona as well as northern Mexico, Cylindropuntia bigelovii is a nastily spined cholla to 4 or 5 feet high. Its stems are completely obscured by long yellow spines giving it an almost touchable fuzzy look, hence the common name. But don't let the look fool you, the inexperienced find it best to stay away from these. The stem segments break off very easily and all you have to do is brush up against one and you'll have a piece stuck to you like velcro. And they're not so easy to remove. Animals sometimes get too close and end up dragging a segment along for long distances before it finally wears or drops off. In this way the plants can form "Cholla Forests" of considerable size as the segments root easily and form new plants. Inconspicous white or yellowish flowers are born at the tips of the stems in spring.
     This is a cutting I took from a pile of prunings in an alley. Hopefully I'll have no problem rooting it as I want to put it in some suitable spot in the garden. Below is a picture of one about 3 feet tall at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson.

All images and text are copyright 2006-Present, D.S. Franges, unless otherwise noted.