California Native Plant Society
Tap map to see plants native to location
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa
Please enter either the common name or the botanical name of any native California plant species to see it's plant record

Golden Cholla
  • Added Add to My Plant List
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa

Zoom To My AddressZoom To California Estimated Plant Range

About Golden Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa) Cylindropuntia echinocarpa is a species of cactus known by the common names silver cholla, golden cholla, and Wiggins' cholla. It was formerly named Opuntia echinocarpa. C. echinocarpa is native to the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico, where it can be found the Sonoran Desert, the Mojave Desert, and Colorado Desert in California and other states. It commonly occurs in desert dry wash, creosote bush scrub, Joshua tree woodland, and Pinyon-juniper woodland communities. It ranges from Mono County to Baja California Peninsula. Silver cholla is a large, tree-like cactus known to exceed 2 m (6. 6 ft) in height. Its stem and branches are made up of cylindrical segments, the surface arranged in green tubercles (segments) up to 1. 5 cm wide and just under 1. 0 cm tall. The fleshy tubercles each bear up to 20 long, straight, grayish or yellowish spines which may be nearly 4 cm long. The tubercles are less than twice the length, which helps distinguish it from Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa). The flower is usually greenish yellow, sometimes pinkish or brownish in color. There is a bumpy, spiny tan fruit is up to two centimeters long and has a foul scent reminiscent of rancid butter. Very few fruits reach maturity, and many immature fruits can often be seen lying on the ground below. The fruits have white seeds.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Succulent

Max. Height
6.6 - 10 ft (2 - 3 m)

Flower Color
Yellow, Pink, Green, Brown

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry places


Elevation ?
-122' - 6541'

Annual Precip. ?
2.6" - 55.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.33" - 2.71"

Coldest Month ?
34.8° F - 63.2° F

Hottest Month ?
63.5° F - 88.8° F

Humidity ?
2.69 vpd - 45.46 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
10*, 11, 12*, 14, 16, 18, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22, 23, 24

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Other Names
Botanical Names
Opuntia echinocarpa|Opuntia wigginsii

Common Names
Wiggins' Cholla, Silver Cholla

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

Sign in to your Calscape Account X

Once signed in, you'll be able to access any previously saved plant lists or create new ones.

Email Address

Sign In

Copyright © 1999-2014 California Native Plant Society. All rights reserved.