I have talked about Cylindropuntia leptocaulis before, but this year  mine is extra thick and loaded with its little yellow flowers, so I had to take more pictures to share in all its glory. I pruned it back in 2021, and it has come back nice and thick and really pretty.

Cylindropuntia leptocaulis is a neat little cactus native to grasslands, deserts, chaparral, and woodlands in Arizona, New Mexico, southwest Oklahoma, and pretty much all over Texas, save East Texas and the tip of the Panhandle. It makes a low shrub about five feet tall and can spread helter-skelter three or four feet, which is why I cut it back every few years so it won’t take over the garden.  It can also spread helter-skelter from the small cylindrical pieces that fall off easily and root wherever they happen to land. Texas has a short-spine and long-spine variety, meaning the main spines are either short or long. Mine seems to look like the long-spine variety that came from a piece I cut off a plant in the Hill Country.

It’s called a Christmas cactus because its fruit turns red by December, and it makes the plant reminiscent of a Christmas tree decorated with red Christmas ornaments. I never seem to get a good picture of it all decorated because I don’t usually have this many flowers, from which the fruits develops, and/or because the birds beat me to it and eat them all! Look closely and you see the green pods that are left when the flowers are done that will turn into the red fruits.

Cylindropuntias are in the opuntia family, which is what we all call prickly pear. Opuntias have pads; cylindropuntia’s pads, if you will, are not round flat pads but slender cylinder-shaped sections, hence the name cylindro-puntia We commonly call these plants chollas. Like all chollas, it is best to keep them trimmed so they don’t get too big and take over. But do that, and you have a nice edition to your collection.

The flowers are now gone on my plant, so I will be waiting till December in hopes of catching a picture of the plant all decorated with its red ornaments.

Sometime to look forward to.