Sprouting Staghorn Cholla Fruit

Even though the fruit of Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor) contain seeds, a fallen Staghorn Cholla fruit also has the amazing ability to take root and form a new cactus plant all by itself without ever having to use its seeds. In the spring of 2007, I discovered this newly sprouted Staghorn Cholla fruit in a sandy wash here in Tucson.

Sprouting Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor) fruit

Curious, I tried to pick up the sprouted Staghorn Cholla fruit, but it was already firmly rooted in the sandy soil, so I left it undisturbed. Life is harsh for little cactus sprouts, but at least this one has the food and water reserves of a fat, green fruit to draw from. Also, unlike the luscious fruit of some of our other cacti, the fruit of Staghorn Cholla are not really edible, so animals will most likely leave this tough, green, tasteless, fallen fruit alone.

If this little sprouting Staghorn Cholla fruit survives, it will eventually grow into a large, treelike cactus.

Staghorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia versicolor)

Staghorn Cholla are very common here in the Sonoran Desert, and these desert cacti are known for their spiny, branching stems that look like deer antlers, wide variety of flower colors (red, orange, yellow, green, pink, or bronze), and plump, spineless fruits.