Red teddy bear cholla
Red teddy bear cholla is a rare naturally occurring cross between Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa and C. bigelovii. The cross was reported in 1987 by Walter E. Camp III, for whom the species, Opuntia ×campii, is named. More recently, opuntias have been broken into two distinct genera: those with flattened stem segments (e.g. prickly pears) remain Opuntia, while those with rounded segments are renamed Cylindropuntia, hence Cylindropuntia ×campii. They are found in California, Arizona, and Nevada, in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts; at elevations of 984-2953′ (300-900 m). The type specimens were found in Paradise Valley, south of Pinnacle Peak, in Maricopa County, Arizona. They appear in sandy flats, gravelly to rocky washes, bajadas, and on hillsides.
Plants: Shrubs are up to 5′ (1.5 m) tall, and densely branched, resembling other teddy bear chollas but with a distinct reddish or pinkish tinge. Branch segments are 6-12″ (15-30 cm) long. Branch tips are 4-8″ (10-20 cm) long and dark blue-green in color. Tubercules are up to ¾″ (2 cm) × ⅜″ (1 cm). Spines are in groups of 3-5, red-brown, with pale tips, up to 1¼″ (3.7 cm) long. There are also finer, shorter radial spines, angled so they lie close to the stem, and covered in gray sheaths. Branch tips break off easily, rooting on the ground or attaching themselves stubbornly to your shoe.
Flowers: Flowers mostly appear on spine-bearing bumps (areoles) near tips of upper branches. Their tepals are pale green to whitish, sometimes tipped with red, ¾-⅞″ (2-2.5 cm) in size. Flower centers contain orange anthers, a light green style, and a light- to dark-green stigma.
Fruits: Leathery, green to yellow-green to yellow when mature, ⅛″ (5 mm) × 1/16″ (2.5 mm), roughly lens-shaped, usually with a few fine spines. They have many tubercules.
YouTube A short video of the cactus at the Desert Garden in Phoenix
Baker, Marc A. & Pinkava, D. J., Department of Plant Biology, Arizona State University; “A New Arizona Hybrid Cholla, Opuntia ×campii (Cactaceae),” Cactus and Succulents Journal (U.S.), Vol. 71, No. 6, 1999, published by the Cactus and Succulent Society of America.
Cylindropuntia ×campii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.