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Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Cactus Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)

General: Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa), also called Golden Cholla, is an upright cactus with joined, cylindrical stems. They often have a narrow upright trunk, but some populations are essentially prostrate (grow along the ground). Silver Cholla tends to have many short branches that are densely covered with yellowish or golden spines. The stem segments usually are shorter than 4 inches and tuberculated. The flowers are yellow-green and about 2.5-inches in diameter. The spines are covered with a papery sheath that can be plucked off. Silver Cholla superficially resembles Buckhorn Chollas, but Silver Cholla has short stem segments, while Buckhorn Cholla has long stem segments.

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Densely branched Silver Cholla.

Silver Cholla often is a common component of vegetation communities on well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on desert flats, bajadas, and moderate slopes into the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zones.

Around Las Vegas, Silver Chollas are common and easy to see along highways (I-15 and US 95/93), vacant lots in town, and along scenic roads at Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon NCA. This is probably the most common cactus around Las Vegas.

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Tubercles on stem segments are elliptical, about twice as long as wide

Family: Cactus (Cactaceae).

Other Names: Golden Cholla.

Plant Form: Usually upright and shrub-like; some small populations grow prostrate.

Height: Usually to about 3 feet (to 9 feet).

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Pronounced tubercles in this dry specimen

Trunk: Usually has a narrow trunk (no larger in diameter than other stem segments).

Stems: Divided into segments; cylindrical. Segments generally less than 4-inches long and about 1-inch in diameter.

Stem Surface: Tuberculated. Tubercles are elliptical, about twice as long as wide (contrast with Buckhorn Cholla, which have long, stretched out tubercles).

Spines: Central: 9 to 20 per group, to about 1-1/2 inches long, pale gray to yellowish, papery sheath present.

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Mature fruits are dry and spiny

Glochids: Present.

Flowers: Blooms late spring and early summer. Inflorescence: solitary flowers. Flower: diameter about 2 inches, yellow-green; filaments pale green to yellowish.

Fruit: Dry, tuberculated, with dense spines.

Seeds: Many, small.

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Yellow-green flower with slight reddish tip on the petals and yellow filaments and anthers

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy, gravelly, and rocky soils on upper bajadas and moderate slopes in the lower mountains.

Distribution: Southern California to Utah and Arizona.

Elevation: About 1,000 to 5,000 feet

Comments: Hybridizes with other chollas.

The common names, silver and golden, refer to the color of the spines. In some populations, the spines are light and silvery; while in other populations, the spines are darker and somewhat golden.

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Flower with more reddish on the tips
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Unripe fruits (red arrows) are fleshy and spiny
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Densely branched Silver Cholla in flower
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Sparsely branched Silver Cholla in flower
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Flower bud
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver cholla in bloom
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Deciduous cactus leaves
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Deciduous cactus leaves
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Fruits are covered with spines
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Spiny fruits on the ground
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Fruits covered with spines
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
more to come ...
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Unusually tall cholla in Basin and Range National Monument
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Unusually tall cholla in Basin and Range National Monument
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Unusually tall cholla in Basin and Range National Monument
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver cholla with bird's nest (Cactus Wren or Scott's Oriole?)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver cholla with bird's nest (Cactus Wren or Scott's Oriole?)
Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)
Silver cholla with bird's nest (Cactus Wren or Scott's Oriole?)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 170720

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