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The Encyclopedia of Cacti

  Austroylindropuntia subulata
(Syn: Opuntia subulata)


subulata forma cristata
This plant is a traffic stopper. A vegetal monument  that produces huge undulant whorls and fans with pronounced sculpture effects.

Description: Opuntia subulata is native to high elevations in Ecuador and Peru and forms an tree-like, branching specimen with time. This is a cristate form, producing very wide undulant fans topped with combs of long emerald green succulent leaves with white areoles, and few (but fierce) white spines. The cells at the tip of the branch where growth occurs begin to multiply at a much faster rate and the normal growing tip "goes crazy", creating fantastic whorls and fans with pronounced sculpture effects.
The crested branches slowly form delightful, snaky ,ridged or crowded hemispherical clusters. The plant often grows a fast growing cylindrical stem to reveal its origins.

Clone A (stong form)

Clone B (thin form)



Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.


Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Muehlenpfordt) Backeberg 1941 forma cristata

Origin Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar)

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.


  • Pereskia subulata Muehlenpfordt 1845
  • Opuntia subulata (Muehlenpfordt) Engelmann 1883
  • Cylindropuntia subulata (Muehlenpfordt) Backeberg 1936
  • Maihuenopsis subulata (Muehlenpfordt) R. Kiesling 1998
  • Opuntia exaltata A. Berger 1912
  • Cylindropuntia exaltata (A. Berger) Backeberg 1936
  • Austrocylindropuntia exaltata (A. Berger) Backeberg 1938
  • Maihuenopsis exaltata (A. Berger) R. Kiesling 1998

During the growing season the crests are topped with combs of long emerald green succulent leaves.



Needs high light levels and adequate moisture (but with good air movement to prevent rot) to thrive.


Cultivation: They are semi-hardy.  Make sure  your Opuntia subulata is not exposed to temperatures below -4C or it may die.  Nevertheless it is a good advice never let the night-time temperature fall below 0C. Water regularly in summer, but allow to dry fully before watering again.  It needs a well-drained soil mix, with small gravel added to ensure drainage.. During the winter months it should be rather kept dry, and water is restricted to only enough to keep the stems and branches from shrivelling. Since these are big sized plants, and they need plenty of space for their roots, repotting should be done every other year, or when the plant has outgrown its pot.
Cuttings in summer (Cuttings will root only in hot weather)


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