Cylindropuntia brittonii (J.G.Ortega) Backeb.
Cylindropuntia mortolensis (Britton & Rose) F.M.Knuth
Grusonia leptocaulis (DC.) G.D.Rowley
Opuntia brittonii J.G.Ortega
Opuntia fragilis frutescens Engelm. & A.Gray
Opuntia frutescens Engelm.
Opuntia gracilis Pfeiff.
Opuntia leptocaulis DC.
Opuntia mortolensis Britton & Rose
Opuntia ramulifera Salm-Dyck
Opuntia stipata K.Schum.
Opuntia vaginata Engelm.
Opuntia virgata Pfeiff.
Common Name: Tasajillo
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis is a spiny, evergreen, succulent, sparingly to densely-branched shrubby or tree-like cactus; it can grow around 50 - 180cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis is widespread, common, and found in numerous protected areas. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
Cylindropuntia leptocaulis spreads easily by seed and also by stem sections that easily break off the parent plant and are then spread by animals. These sections form roots and grow into new plants and, by this means, the plant has become a weed in countries such as South Africa and Spain[
There is a report that the edible fruits may have hallucinogenic properties[
The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids - these are barbed spines that are usually small to minute and are very sharp and brittle. The glochids are very easily dislodged when the plant is touched and can penetrate the skin where, because of their barbs, they become stuck and are very difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable irritation and discomfort[
Opuntia species can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, especially in older parts of the plant. Perfectly alright in small quantities, foods containing oxalic acid should not be eaten in large amounts since it can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
Southern and southwestern N. America - Arizona to New Mexico and Oklahoma, south to southern Mexico
]. Deserts, grasslands, chaparrals, oak-juniper woodlands, flats, bajadas and slopes, growing on sandy, loamy to gravelly substrates; at elevations from 40 - 1,500 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
In cultivation, Cactus plants generally will not succeed in moist climates. They usually require a sunny position in a well-drained, circumneutral soil and to be kept more or less dry in the dormant season[
The outer wall of the fruit is actually formed from stem material and, in many species of Cylindropuntia, once detached from the plant will form roots and grow into a new plant. This is often the main way in which a plant will reproduce[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. The red to yellow fruits are tasty, though they are possibly hallucinogenic[
]. The obovoid, yellow to scarlet (rarely green, sometimes tinged purple, becoming yellow) fruit is free of spines; it is around 9 - 27mm long and 6 - 12mm in diameter, occasionally proliferating to form a chain of fruits[
The plant is used medicinally[
]. No more information
Seed - sow early spring in a very well-drained compost in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first two winters. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some protection from winter wet. Make sure you have some reserve plants in case those outdoors do not overwinter.
Cuttings of leaf pads or fruits at any time in the growing season. Remove a pad from the plant and then leave it in a dry sunny place for a couple of days to ensure that the base is thoroughly dry and has begun to callous. Pot up into a sandy compost. Very easy, rooting quickly.