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Christmas Cholla (Opuntia leptocaulis)
Christmas cholla

DESCRIPTION: Commonly grows to 2' but will grow taller within other shrubs. Stem joints are only about 1/8" thick (smaller than pencil cholla). Each areole only has one long (2") spine. Flowers are pale yellow (1/2" wide) and bloom in late spring. Fruit is bright red and stays on plant through the winter (looks like Christmas bulbs during Christmas).
NATURAL HISTORY: Warning, this cactus often lives within other shrubs, blending in. So just when you think you know which shrubs have spines and which don't, wham, you're hit by one of these camouflaged within a spineless shrub. The flowers are beautiful but only bloom during the late afternoon.