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Desert Christmas cactus facts for kids

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Desert Christmas cactus
Scientific classification

Opuntia leptocaulis DC.
Opuntia frutescens Engelm.

Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, the desert Christmas cactus, desert Christmas cholla, pencil cactus, or tasajillo, is a species of cholla cactus.


Cylindropuntia leptocaulis is widely distributed in deserts, grasslands, chaparral, and woodlands in the Southwestern United States and several states in Northern Mexico.


The shrubby Cylindropuntia leptocaulis plants reach .5 to 1.8 m (1.6 to 5.9 ft) tall, reaching the extreme height when supported within desert trees. Branches are narrow, 3–5 mm across. Spines 0-1 (occasionally as many as 3) at each areole. Flowers open in the late afternoon and are pale yellow or greenish yellow, with occasional red tips.

Around December, the plant grows red berries that when consumed, can have an intoxicating effect. The fruits are crushed and mixed with a beverage by the Apache, Chiricahua, and Mescalero to produce narcotic effects.


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cylindropuntia leptocaulis para niños

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Desert Christmas cactus Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.