One Cactus Question – Two Answers


I came across your blog whilst trying to find more information on my cactus and i was wondering if you could help me? Ive had this cactus now for about 8 years and i really want to find out what type of cacti he is. Ive done some research and ive been told he is a Austrocylindropuntia subulata monstrose (I think i will stick to calling him by his name Flump). But there are also different types of Austrocylindropuntia subulata monstrose from what i belive and i was wondering if you could help pinpoint exactly what he is so that i am able to give him the best care.

Right now i have him in a small pot ive repotted him twice but he seems happy and seems to be a slow growing cacti (but i could be wrong and just not be giving him what he needs) I have attached a picture of Flump any help would be so much appreciated !


Now, the funny thing is both Hap and I answered the question at the same time, not knowing the other was answering too.

Here’s my answer:

You do have the name right for your cactus. Its common name is the Christmas Tree Cactus, but we prefer Flump. I’m not aware of any other cultivar names for this plant, but an older species name that has fallen out of use is the Opuntia exaltata monstrose.

You can check out Hap’s long form answer after the break.


Flump looks very happy and you seem to be doing just fine taking care of “him”. You may want to repot next spring as he will grow faster with more root run, don’t transplant in the fall or winter, as it is hard for cacti heal up from the transplant trauma (root disturbance) when they are headed in to winter dormancy. If you do repot to a larger pot I suggest using a terra cotta pot as it “breathes” and I find that is easier to keep cacti healthy in unglazed clay pots. Keep in mind larger pots take more time todry-out, so extend the time between waterings until you learn the new pot’s dry-time.

I am not aware that there are any radically different clonal types of Austrocylindropuntia subulata monstrose in the trade. There may be, but all the ones I have seen are so similar, differences seem to be all cultural, not genetics. It seems to me they are all pretty much the same clone, the ones I saw in Amsterdam match the ones I grow in California. I have seen several different common and marketing names out there, but since we made the choice to stick to Latin to keep our plant names simple I don’t pay that much attention to names like ‘Christmas Tree Cactus’, ‘Elven Spire’ or ‘Pixie Palace’, which are all used for Austrocylindropuntia subulata monstrose, which makes me think someone is just trying to market them to ‘tween girls… I mean it is a mutant of one of the biggest, meanest tree cholla out there and giving it a fantasy name is just goofy! But I like “Flump” maybe “Mr. Flump, the Mutant, takes on the world” would make a great web-comic?

Take care,


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