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Austrocylindropuntia vestita (Old Man Opuntia)


Scientific Name

Austrocylindropuntia vestita (Salm-Dyck) Backeb

Common Names

Old Man Opuntia, Cotton Pole, Cotton Pole Cactus, Cotton Coral, Cotton Coral Cactus


Austrocylindropuntia chuquisacana, Cylindropuntia vestita, Opuntia chuquisacana, Opuntia vestita, Pseudotephrocactus vestitus, Trichopuntia vestita, Cylindropuntia teres

Scientific Classification

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


Austrocylindropuntia vestita is a cactus with slender cylindrical stems, branched basally and near the top, and covered densely with long, white hairs. The stems grow up to 25 inches (60 cm) tall and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. They have thin leaves and a few white, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long spines. Flowers are deep red or violet, up to 1.4 inches (3.5 cm) long, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. They appear at the top of the stems from late spring to early summer.

Austrocylindropuntia vestita (Old Man Opuntia)

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °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.

These cacti will grow just fine in a garden, but 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 cactus 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.

Opuntia can propagate either by cuttings or by seed. To propagate by cuttings, sever pads from a plant and let them dry so that the wounds heal. Then place the plants in dry soil and refrain from watering them until they begin to grow to avoid rotting them.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Opuntia.


Austrocylindropuntia vestita is native to Bolivia and northern Argentina.


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