Pencil Cactus (Opuntia ramosissima)

Diamond Cholla; Pencil Cactus; Darning Needle (Opuntia ramosissima)

Cylindropuntia ramosissima is native to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of the Southwestern United States, California, and Northwestern Mexico, and to Baja California and its Islas San Benito.

Cylindropuntia ramosissima is a decumbent or erect and treelike cactus which can approach 2 meters-6 feet in maximum height. It has many narrow branches made up of cylindrical segments, green in color drying gray, the surface divided into squarish, flat tubercles with few or no spines, or often with a single long, straight spine.

The flower is small and orange, pink or brownish in color. The fruit is a small, dry, spiny body up to 2 centimeters long.

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About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.