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Austrocylindropuntia subulata f. monstrosa (Christmas Tree Cactus)


Scientific Name

Austrocylindropuntia subulata f. monstrosa

Accepted Scientific Name

Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Muehlenpf.) Backeb.

Common Names

Christmas Tree Cactus, Eve's Needle, Eve's Needle Cactus


Cylindropuntia subulata f. monstrosa, Opuntia subulata f. monstrosa, Austrocylindropuntia subulata f. monstrose, Opuntia subulata f. monstrose

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Tribe: Austrocylindropuntieae
Genus: Austrocylindropuntia


Austrocylindropuntia subulata f. monstrosa is a large tree-like cactus with cylindrical joints that grow up to 1.6 feet (50 cm) long and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. The plant grows up to 13 feet (4 m) tall. Leaves are green, nearly cylindrical, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. Spines are light yellow and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long. Flowers are red and up to 2.5 inches (6.2 cm) long.


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Though the large variety of species within the Opuntia genus means different types of prickly pears may need slightly different care, all are desert cacti that need lots of sun, lots of light, and very little water. If you live in a hot, arid area, these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.

As desert cacti, Prickly Pears require maximum sunlight to thrive and should be kept in direct sunlight whenever possible. Very little water is required. These drought-resistant plants grow best in hot, dry areas, and excessive water could cause them to rot. Hot temperatures are best, but these cacti will tolerate a very wide range of temperatures. The most important soil requirement for Opuntia is that it drains well. Other than that, a basic potting soil is fine, and these cacti will grow in rock gardens, as well.

Though Opuntia will grow just fine in a garden, they can be grown in pots as well. To repot, ensure the soil is dry, remove the pot and knock away the old soil. After treating any cuts with fungicide, place the prickly pear in a new pot and backfill it with potting soil. As with a new cutting, make sure not to water a newly repotting prickly pear for a brief period to avoid rotting its roots. See more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.


Austrocylindropuntia subulata f. monstrosa is a monstrose form of Austrocylindropuntia subulata.


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