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Paper Spine Cactus

Optunia papyracantha

In stock

1 gallon

Plant Care

Native region:

Desert Adapted

Water needs:



Mature size:

Growth rate:

Full Sun; Filtered Shade



Flower color:

Flower season:



Spring; Fall





Nectar pollinators:


Nighttime pollinators:


Rabbit resistant:


If you're looking for a strange-looking desert plant that's also very easy to propagate, this may be the one for you. Paper Spine Cactus is covered with long, white spines with papery texture and ribbon-like waves that are its signature. Although the paper spines are flat and smooth, glochids- very short barbed spines that hook onto other things that come into contact- are found in the areoles of the stems as well. The stems have irregular, oblong shapes that look like pine cones that are loosely stacked together due to it being a variant of the Pine Cone Cactus. These stems are loosely joined and can’t stand much pressure. Stems will eventually fall or be knocked over, and root themselves given the right conditions. Because of this, the stems like to stay low to the ground, usually within 1.5 feet. Excellent container plant. Flowers are very showy, large, and bright white with a yellow core. Native to Western Argentina, among the Andes mountains, where it is dry and warm. Botanical name: Tephrocactus articulatus var papyracanthus Also known as Paper Spine Cholla Cactus

Growing Plants in the Desert — Important Information

The information presented here is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate and based on my research from reliable sources, observations I have made of plants growing in my, and other gardens I have visited, and observations of the plants in their native habitats. I would appreciate your feedback and experience to help me educate others! 


Cacti: In my experience, cacti are much happier in the filtered shade here in the low desert of the Coachella Valley. Colors are more vibrant and they bloom more profusely, especially the non-native varieties. If you pay attention to how our native barrel and beavertail opuntia grow in the wild, it is frequently tucked in the rocks under creosote or another shrub.


Light Requirements: I have found that in our desert (Sonoran/Colorado) “full sun” plants can take and appreciate the late afternoon filtered sun, especially in the hot summer months.

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