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Teddy Bear Cholla

Natural History

Teddy Bear Cholla are members of the Opuntia genus, a group which includes other spiny cacti like prickly pear. Four characteristics distinguish Opuntia from other cactus:
They have jointed segments
The areoles have minute barbed spines called glochids that are easily detachable
Rudimentary leaves are present on new joints
Their seeds have a pale covering called an aril
Teddy Bear Cholla are a distinctive cactus with spines so densely packed it almost looks fuzzy (though fuzzy is not an adjective you'd typically use to describe this cholla). The Teddy Bear has a central trunk which grows from 3 to 5 feet in height with numerous, segmented side branches which grow near the top. The spines are lightly colored, very sharp and about 1" in length. As they age, the spines turn brown or black.

The Teddy Bear Cholla rarely produces viable seeds. It reproduces almost entirely by dropping segments which in turn take root.

The Teddy Bear Cholla grows in low elevation desert areas below 3000 feet. The plant blooms in the spring and produces green or yellow flowers which are 1.5 " wide, followed by egg-shaped fruit. Pack rats often pile the joints of this cholla around the entrance to burrows to ward off predators.

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