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Tephrocactus articulatus (Pine Cone Cactus)


Scientific Name

Tephrocactus articulatus (Otto) Backeb.

Common Names

Pine Cone Cactus, Spruce Cone Cholla


Opuntia articulata, Cereus articulatus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Tribe: Tephrocacteae
Genus: Tephrocactus


Tephrocactus articulatus is a variable cactus that forms small, somewhat messy tufts of branched, erect, or prostrate stems created by a sequence of spherical, oval, or almost conical segments. It usually grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. The stem segments are up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter. They have a grey epidermis and tubercles, initially evident, spirally placed, with small areoles, almost round, woolly, with several brown glochids. Flowers are bell-shaped, white with a yellow center, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.


USDA hardiness zone 8b to 10b: from 15 °F (−9.4 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °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 – particularly the American Southwest – these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed. 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.


Native to western Argentina (provinces of Catamarca, Cordoba, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Luis and Santiago del Estero).



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