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Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus (Paper Spine Cactus)


Scientific Name

Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus (Phil.) Backeb.

Common Names

Paper Spine Cactus


Tephrocactus papyracanthus, Opuntia papyracantha

Scientific Classification

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


Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus is a slow-growing, segmented, bushy cactus up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. The little segments are pinecone shaped, loosely attached to each other and fall easily. It has remarkable soft flat paper spines. The flowers are bell-shaped, white with yellow center and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.

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USDA hardiness zones 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, these plants can generally be planted outside, left alone, and enjoyed.

These cacti will grow just fine in a garden, bu they can be grown in pots as well. To repot, ensure the soil is dry, then 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 a dry soil and refrain from watering them until they begin to grow to avoid rotting them… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Opuntia


Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus is native to western Argentina (provinces of Catamarca, Cordoba, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Luis and Santiago del Estero).


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