Teddybear Cholla in typical bajada habitat.
General: Teddybear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) is an upright cactus with a stout,
upright trunk and many short, cylindrical branches that are very densely covered with yellowish spines. The stem segments
usually are shorter than 4 inches long and are tuberculated, but you wouldn't know it because the spines are so dense they
conceal the tubercles. The flowers are yellowish and about 2.5-inches in diameter. The spines are covered with a papery
sheath that can be plucked off. The stem segments detach easily and spread the plant. The old spines on the trunk, and
the trunk itself, turn dark brown with age.
Teddybear Chollas are locally common component of vegetation communities on well-drained gravelly and rocky soils
on flats, bajadas, and canyons in the Upper Sonoran
(Mojave Desert Scrub) life zone.
Around Las Vegas, the easiest places to see Teddybear Cholla are in
Lake Mead National Recreation Area along the roads to Nelson (Hwy 165 south
of Boulder City off Highway 95) and along the Cottonwood Cove Road (Hwy 164 east of Searchlight).
Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).
Other Names: Teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii.
Plant Form: Usually upright and tree-like.
Height: Usually to about 3 feet (to 6 feet).
Trunk: Stout (not much larger in diameter than other stem segments); ages to dark brown or blackish.
Stems: Divided into cylindrical segments. Branches few, short, and spreading, concentrated near the top of the plant.
Segments to about 4-inches long, about 2-inches diameter (spines add apparent girth). Detach easily.
Stem Surface: Tuberculated (but the spines are so dense that the stem surface is hidden).
Spines: Central spines 4-10, to about 1-inch long, pale yellow, sheath translucent.
Flowers: Blooms in late spring. Inflorescence: solitary flowers. Flower yellow, to about 2-1/2 inches diameter; filaments green.
Fruit: Leathery, Tuberculated, yellow; 1/2 to 1-inch long, few spines or bristles.
Seeds: Many, small (usually sterile, generally reproduces by detached segments).
Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate slopes in the lower mountains.
Distribution: Southern California to northern Arizona, and south into northern Mexico.
Elevation: To about 3,300 feet.