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Cacti of Texas

Mammilaria heyderi


This is merely a checklist of the cacti, or cactus, or cactuses, found within the State of Texas.  It includes general ranges and counties of known occurrence, including distribution into adjacent areas or entire range.  Information is taken from Lyman Benson's, Cacti of the United States and Canada, 1982 and are current to that date.  Some names have recently been changed or amended, I am working on that, therefore, some genera are changed from that of Benson.


Species in Red were endangered species according to Benson, 1982. Those with links are species currently listed according to the Federal and Texas Endangered Species lists. If a species with varieties is red (like Cylindropuntia imbricata), then one or more of the varieties (like var. argentea) are listed as threatened or endangered, in which case the variety is highlighted in Red.



Most of the links are to, with many thanks to Daiv Freeman, plus a few of my own photos.


Links to some points of interest, mostly maps.

Natural Subdivisions of Texas

Texas State Parks Map Links

Texas Vegetation Types

Map of Texas Counties


The locations listed in the distributions below are generally listed as counties in Texas, unless otherwise noted;

TP: Trans-Pecos, the far western region of Texas west of the Pecos River including Pecos, Reeves, Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Culberson, Hudspeth, and El Paso counties. The Chihuahuan Desert extends into this area from Mexico; 
Big Bend National Park, located at the southern end of Brewster County in Trans-Pecos, Texas; 
Panhandle of Texas, the uppermost 26 counties of Texas; 
S, W, E, N, C,
and combinations preceding a county or location are directional, i.e., South, West, East, North, SouthEast (SE), etc., C being Central.
Stockton Plateau:
A limestone rich area of SW Texas that generally encompasses the following counties: S Pecos, Terrell, Val Verde, and Crockett.

Edwards Plateau: A limestone rich area of central Texas, bounded on the east by the Balcones Escarpment, from Georgetown to Austin to San Antonio westward to Edwards, E Val Verde, Schleicher, and Sutton counties, north to San Saba, Mills, and Lampasas counties. In the middle of this region is the Llano Uplift, a massive exposure of Precambrian granite in Burnet, Llano, Gillespie (Enchanted Rock State Natural Area is here), and N Blanco counties. 

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Order Cactales/Family Cactaceae
Tribe 2. Opuntiae

Genus Cylindropuntia
The Chollas
Section 1. Cylindraceae
Series Imbricatae

Cylindropuntia tunicata

    var. tunicata  

        Distribution: N Brewster in the Glass Mtns, ?Endangered.

    var. davisii  

        Distribution: Rare but locally abundant in sandy soils throughout its range: Hansford, SW Potter, S Swisher, Parmer, Bailey, Cochran, Nolan, Childress, Mitchell, Kent, Tom Green, Coryell, McCulloch, Gillespie, Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Culberson; OK in Greer and Harmon; E NM.


Cylindropuntia imbricata

Tree cholla, coyonostole

    var. imbricata

        Distribution: Grasslands in West TX in and west of San Saba, Burnet, Bexar, Victoria, to SE AZ, S CO, SW KS and Cimarron Co., OK.

    var. argentea

        Distribution: S Brewster in BBNP, Threatened.


Series Leptocaules


Cylindropuntia leptocaulis  

In Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Randall Co., Texas, (c) 2004 Kari J McWest

Desert Christmas cactus, pencil cholla, tasajillo, tesajo 

    Distribution: Widespread west of a line from Oldham to Clay to Walker to Victoria to Cameron, west to Mohave, AZ; also in Murray, OK.


Cylindropuntia kleiniae var. kleiniae  

Klein cholla

    Distribution: TP: Brewster, Presidio, Jeff Davis, Culberson, Hudspeth; to San Miguel and Hidalgo, NM; also in Eastland and Lampasas, TX, and in Kingfisher, OK.


Section 2. Clavatae

Series Clavatae

The Club Chollas


Cylindropuntia schottii 


    var. schottii

        Distribution: SW TX in Brown, Cameron, Starr, Zapata, Webb, Val Verde, Schleicher, Brewster, Presidio, El Paso.

    var. grahami

        Distribution: Brewster, Hudspeth, El Paso, and S Otero and S Dona Ana, NM.



Genus Opuntia
The Prickly Pears


Section 1. Opuntia

Series 1. Polyacanthae


Opuntia polyacantha  

Plains prickly pear

    var. rufispina

        Distribution: TP: NE Presidio, Jeff Davis, N Culberson, N Hudspeth, El Paso, to SW Wyoming, W Nevada and San Bernardino, CA.

    var. trichophora

        Distribution: TP: N Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth; PH: Potter, Armstrong, Hutchinson, to NM, CO, SE UT and N AZ.


Opuntia fragilis

    var. fragilis  

    Little prickly pear

        Distribution: PH: Potter, Hutchinson; to Curry Co., NM, Coconino Co., AZ, extreme N CA, into Canada, to the Upper Peninsula MI, WI, to Cimarron Co., OK. This northernmost cactus occurs near Ft St John, British Columbia, Canada.


Opuntia arenaria  

    Distribution: In sands along the Rio Grande from extreme SW Hudspeth to W El Paso and into Dona Ana, NM to Las Cruces. Threatened.


Series 2. Basilares 

Beavertail Cacti


Opuntia rufida  

Blind prickly pear

    Distribution: TP: Big Bend Region of NW Presidio to S Brewster near Rio Grande.


Series 3. Opuntiae


Opuntia pusilla

    Distribution: Coastal SE United States in dunes. Isolated records in Texas are Chambers at Anahuac, Galveston at Baffle Point of Bolivar Peninsula, Aransas at Rockport, and eastward along Gulf Coast to N FL (not S of Sarasota) to NC islands, also south central GA.


Opuntia humifusa  

Eastern prickly pear

    var. humifusa

        Distribution: E of line from Cameron-Kerr-Archer in TX, to Kansas City, MO, WI, MI, to Cape Cod, MA, to S FL.

    var. austrina

        Distribution: Galveston (intergrades with Opuntia stricta), Harris (Harrisburg), TX, to C AL and Mobile Bay.


Opuntia macrorhiza  

Plains prickly pear

    var. macrorhiza

            Distribution: Widespread in TX, absent from Stockton Plateau and Pecos River Valley (in Pecos  Valley of S NM), to MI and S ID, to Yuma, AZ and extreme NE San Bernardino Co., CA, also in Lake Charles, LA, C AR.

    var. pottsii

            Distribution: Potter (Amarillo), Mitchell, Maverick, and TP, to Santa Cruz (Nogales) and Pinal (Superstition Mountains) AZ, to Bernalillo (Albuquerque), NM.


Opuntia atrispina

    Distribution: Presidio, Brewster, Mitchell, Nolan, Taylor, Bee, Terrell, Val Verde, and Uvalde in western Texas.


Opuntia violacea

Purple prickly pear 

    var. violacea

        Distribution: Hudspeth, to Gila and Pima, AZ.

    var. santa-rita  

        Distribution: TP, Brewster from BBNP to Jeff Davis, north and west to Organ Pipe National Monument, Pima, and N Gila, AZ.

    var. castetteri

        Distribution: Rare, Reeves, El Paso, Crane, Presidio, Brewster of Texas, to Otero, NM, and Cochise, AZ.

    var. macrocentra  

        Distribution: TP (except Pecos Co.), and SW Webb and SW LaSalle, TX, north and west to Pima and Graham, AZ, and Lincoln and Eddy, NM.


Opuntia phaeacantha  

    var. phaeacantha  

        Distribution: From vicinity of towns of Sanderson (Terrell Co.) and Alpine (Brewster Co)., to S Hudspeth, El Paso, to along NM/TX border in Lea and Union Co., NM to Jefferson (Denver), and Mesa (Grand Junction), CO, to Washington (St. George), UT, south and southeast to Mohave, Yavapai, and Cochise (Huachuca Mtns), AZ.

    var. camanchica  

        Distribution: Uncommon. PH: from Randall, Hutchinson, Briscoe, Floyd, Guadalupe Co., NM, to W OK.

    var. spinosibacca 

        Distribution: Throughout Brewster, but Presidio only near Ruidosa and Candelaria.

    var. discata  

        Distribution: Floyd to Travis to Atascosa westward, including Tom Green, to San Diego, Orange, and Inyo, CA and Washington, UT, to Bernalillo, NM.

    var. major  

In Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Randall Co., Texas, (c) 2004 Kari J McWest
O. p. major on the rim of Palo Duro Canyon, (c) 2004 Kari J McWest.

        Distribution: Widespread. W of Trego, KS-Dallas-San Patricio-Hidalgo, includes PH: Potter, Deaf Smith, Swisher, Briscoe, to San Diego to San Luis Obispo, CA to Boulder, CO, and in Fall River, SD.


Opuntia lindheimeri  

Texas prickly pear

    var. lindheimeri 

        Distribution: Tom Green-Lampasas-Smith-Galveston/Bolivar south and west to Hidalgo, NM and in Guadalupe and Quay, NM, and in Murray, Pontotoc, and Johnston, OK.

    var. linguiformis  

    Cow’s tongue 

        Distribution: ?Extinct, native populations from Bexar (San Antonio). Benson (p. 495): "The variety was introduced into cultivation by David Griffiths about 1908, and it has escaped in various localities. During 66 years the plant has not been demonstrated to occur still as a native variety." Commonly cultivated throughout the southwest.

    var. tricolor

        Distribution: Rio Grande Valley from Cameron (Port Isabel) to Zapata, Webb, and W Duval. 

    var. lehmannii 

        Distribution: Rio Grande Plain from S Cameron, South Padre Island, Nueces, Kleberg, McMullen.


Opuntia stricta 

    vars. stricta  

    Southern spineless cactus 

        Distribution: Rare. From Nueces east to Galveston Island, S Chambers, S Lee, W to FL, inc. Key West, and SC.

    var. dillenii  

        Distribution: Cameron, Chambers, Galveston on Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island, and in coastal FL to SC.


Opuntia strigil  

    var. strigil 

        Distribution: Pecos, Terrell, E Crockett, Nolan, El Paso. 

    var. flexospina  

        Distribution: Extinct? San Patricio and Webb.


Opuntia ficus-indica  

Indian Fig, nopal
Opuntia "dillei" (= f.i. + Opuntia phaeacantha major

        Distribution: Jeff Davis, N Brewster (Alpine), Val Verde (Del Rio), Dona Ana (Las Cruces), NM, Alamogordo, NM, Guadalupe Mtns, NM.
Opuntia "subarmata" (= f.i. + Opuntia lindheimeri

        Distribution: BBNP, Val Verde (Del Rio), Webb/La Salle corner, Coryell-Hays.



Tribe 3. Cacteae (Cereae)

Subtribe 1. Cereinae

Group A

Former Genus Cereus :


Genus Acanthocereus (Britton & Rose)


Acanthocereus pentagonus  

Barbed-wire cactus 

        Distribution: Cameron, and in S FL, including the Keys.


Genus Peniocereus (Britton & Rose)


Peniocereus greggii  

Desert night-blooming cereus 

    var. greggii 

        Distribution: TP: Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Pecos, Terrell near Sanderson, to E Hidalgo and S Grant, NM, E Cochise, AZ.


(Wilcoxia B&R)

Cereus poselgeri  


    Distribution: Lower Rio Grande Valley/Plain in SW Webb, W Zapata, SW Starr, SE Cameron, E Duval.



Genus Echinocereus

Echinocereus triglochidiatus  

claret cup, red-flowered hedgehog

    var. neomexicanus  

        Distribution: TP and Stockton Plateau: El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, Brewster, Presidio, Val Verde, W Sutton, Kimball, Uvalde, and west to Pima, AZ and McKinley, NM, N to Bernalillo, NM. 

    var. gurneyi  

        Distribution: TP: W Terrell, Brewster, Presidio, Culberson, Hudspeth, El Paso, N to Dona Ana, Otero, and Eddy, NM. Possibly in Jeff Davis, TX, although rare above 5,000 feet elevation (prefers Chihuahuan Desert and associated grasslands).

    var. melanocanthus

        Distribution: Widespread from Central Texas to AZ, CA (E Inyo), NV, UT, CO, and NM: In Texas: TP and Edwards Plateau: Burnet, Llano, Gillespie, Kerr, Edwards, Hays, Uvalde, Zavala, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, and N of McAllen in Hidalgo; also in Curry, NM, near Clovis.

        Note: The epithet melanocanthus means "black spined", specimens with which are actually rare, but some occur near the type locality of 15 mi SE Santa Fe, NM 

    var. paucispinus

        Distribution: Edwards Plateau to TP: Lampasas, Kimble, Uvalde, Val Verde, Pecos, Jeff Davis.


Echinocereus berlandieri  

        Distribution (general): Rio Grande Plain. 

    var. berlandieri

        Distribution: From Cameron (Port Isabel) to Webb (Laredo).

    var. papillosus

        Distribution: Bexar (San Antonio), McMullen, Jim Wells, Duval, Webb, N Cameron

    var. angusticeps

        Distribution: ?Extinct, near Linn, Hidalgo.


Echinocereus pentalophus  

        Distribution: S TX in Bexar (San Antonio), N McMullen, and along Rio Grande in Starr, Hidalgo, to E Cameron.


Echinocereus fendleri

    var. fendleri

        Distribution: El Paso, W Hudspeth, into New Mexico, S CO, AZ.

    var. rectispinus

        Distribution: SE Culberson, Hudspeth, El Paso, S NM to Pima and S Pinal, Greenlee, AZ.


Echinocereus enneacanthus  

Hedgehog, pitaya, pitahaya

    var. enneacanthus

        Distribution: SW Tom Green-Travis-Cameron and west to Ash Canyon, Organ Mountains, Dona Ana, NM.

    var. brevispinus

        Distribution: Real-Bexar-Jim Wells-Hidalgo west to Val Verde.

    var. stramineus  

    strawberry hedgehog, strawberry pitaya

        Distribution: SW Tom Green, W Val Verde-El Paso to the Guadalupe (Eddy), Sacramento (Otero), and Organ (Dona Ana) mountains, NM.

    var. dubius

        Distribution: Val Verde, Big Bend Region of Brewster and Presidio, W Hudspeth-El Paso.


Echinocereus lloydii  

        Distribution: Pecos, and Dona Ana and Eddy, NM; Endangered.


Echinocereus pectinatus  

Rainbow Cactus

    var. pectinatus  

        Distribution: Rare in TX: El Paso, Brewster, S Pecos, Maverick, and S Cochise in AZ.

    var. wenigeri

        Distribution: Terrell, Val Verde, Sutton, Brewster.

    var. minor

        Distribution: S Brewster, El Paso, and S Dona Ana

    var. neomexicanus

    Yellow-flowered rainbow

        Distribution: TP (except Reeves and Jeff Davis), Mitchell, Midland, Maverick, to near Benson, W Cochise, AZ, and SC Cibola, S Lincoln and Chaves, NM, southward. Possibly in Pima and Santa Cruz, AZ.  


Echinocereus reichenbachii  

Lace Cactus 

    var. reichenbachii  

        Distribution: Dallam, Ochiltree, Roberts, Hemphill, Potter (also near Borger, Hutchinson Co., KJM), to Edwards Palteau and Central Texas E to Fayette, S and W to Duval and Uvalde. Also to C andW OK.

    var. perbellus  

Baby one in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, (c)2004 Kari J McWest.

        Distribution: Randall, Armstrong, Bailey, Dickens, Howard, Mitchell, Jones, Taylor, Sutton, to Otero, Lea, Chaves, Union, NM, and S CO.

    var. albertii  

        Distribution: Jim Wells, near Alice, Endangered. "Kleberg, Jim Wells, and Refugio counties of south Texas." -- TPWD

    var. fitchii  

        Distribution: RGV Webb to Starr, Threatened

    var. chisosensis  Echinocereus chisoensis var. chisoensis in TPWD list.

        Distribution: BBNP, Threatened

    var. albispinus  

        Distribution: NW Childress Co., 10 mi E of Memphis = hybrid swarm w/perbellus?


Echinocereus viridiflorus  

    var. viridiflorus  

        Distribution: SE Potter, SE Oldham, ?Threatened

    var. davisii  

        Distribution: S of Marathon, Brewster Co., Endangered

    var. correllii  

        Distribution: near Ft. Stockton, Pecos Co., and Marathon, Brewster Co., Threatened

    var. cylindricus  

        Distribution: El Paso, Culberson, Brewster


Echinocereus chloranthus  

    var. chloranthus  

        Distribution: BBNP N to Jeff Davis to Cornudas Mtns, El Paso in Franklin Mtns

    var. neocapillus  

        Distribution: near Marathon, Brewster Co., Endangered



Subtribe 2. Cactineae

Group C


Genus Lophophora

Lophophora williamsii 

        Distribution: Starr, S Zapata, NW Jim Hogg, SE Webb, BBNP in Brewster Co., near Presidio, Presidio Co.



Genus Ferocactus

Ferocactus wislizenii  

Southwestern Barrel Cactus

        Distribution: El Paso


Ferocactus hamatacanthus  

    var. hamatacanthus  

        Distribution: El Paso, TP to Port Isabel, Kleburg, Jim Wells, Duval

    var. sinuatus  

        Distribution: W San Patricio


Ferocactus setispinus  

        Distribution: San Saba, Balcones Escarpment from Val Verde to Williamson and southward



Genus Echinocactus

Echinocactus horizonthalonius  

Turks’ Head Cactus 

    var. horizonthalonius  

        Distribution: TP, Val Verde, Kinney, and Duval


Echinocactus texensis  

Horse crippler, devil’s head 

        Distribution: "from Pecos Valley and N Brewster Co. NE to Garza, Young, and Tarrant Cos., and S and E to Travis, Refugio, and Cameron Cos." Benson, p. 723


Genus Astrophytum

Astrophytum asterias

Star cactus

        Distribution: Starr




Genus Epithelantha

Epithelantha micromeris  

Button cactus 

        Distribution: Medina, Val Verde, Pecos, Brewster, W Hudspeth, El Paso, into S NM


Epithelantha bokei 

Big Bend button cactus 

        Distribution: S Brewster Co., Threatened



Genus Thelocactus


Thelocactus bicolor 

    var. schottii 

        Distribution: Starr, Brewster near Marathon and Lajitas

    var. flavidispinus  

        Distribution: Starr, Brewster near Marathon, Threatened



Genus Neolloydia/Sclerocactus

Neolloydia conoidea  

        Distribution: Edwards, Terrell, Pecos, Brewster, Culberson, El Paso


Neolloydia warnockii  

        Distribution: Brewster, Presidio, Culberson, Hudspeth, Threatened


Neolloydia gautii  

        Distribution: Sour Lake, Hardin Co., Endangered


Neolloydia mariposensis  

Sclerocactus mariposensis

        Distribution: SW Brewster, Threatened


Neolloydia intertexta  

    var. intertexta  

        Distribution: Common, N Brewster, Solitario & NW Presidio Co., Jeff Davis near Ft Davis "the Limpia", El Paso

    var. dasyacantha  

        Distribution: BBNP to Marathon in Brewster, El Paso



Genus Ancistrocactus

Ancistrocactus tobuschii Sclerocactus brevihamatus var. tobuschii

        Distribution: Bandera Co., near Vanderpool, Endangered. "Western Edwards Plateau in Bandera, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Real, Uvalde, and Val Verde Counties." -- TPWD


Ancistrocactus scheeri 

        Distribution: RGV from Val Verde to Hidalgo, N and W to Jim Wells and Frio


Ancistrocactus uncinatus  

    var. wrightii  

        Distribution: TP from Val Verde-Crockett-Reeves and west, also Starr



Genus Coryphantha/Escobaria


Coryphantha minima  Escobaria minima

        Distribution: near Marathon, Brewster Co., Endangered


Coryphantha macromeris

    var. macromeris  

        Distribution: Zapata, Ector, and TP

    var. runyunii  

        Distribution: Zapata


Coryphantha scheeri  

    var. scheeri

        Distribution: Maverick, Brewster, Reeves

    var. valida

        Distribution: NW Brewster, Jeff Davis, S Hudspeth, El Paso

    var. uncinata

        Distribution: El Paso, Threatened

    var. robustispina  

        Distribution: El Paso, Threatened


Coryphantha vivipara  


C. vivipara var. "neomexicana", an intermediate swarm, from Chihuahuan Desert near White's City, Eddy Co., NM, in bloom, July 2002 (c)2002 W.M. Burrell/K.J. McWest. In cultivation. Bloom is about 10 mm in diameter.

var. vivipara  

        Distribution: Potter, Randall, Archer, to Canada. 

C. vivipara var. vivipara from grasslands near Canyon, Randall Co., TX, in bloom, June 2002 (c)2002 W.M. Burrell; same specimen, detail (c)2002 W.M. Burrell. In cultivation.

    var. radiosa  

        Distribution: Potter, Moore, S to San Saba, and in TP Texas

Coryphantha hesteri  

        Distribution: N Brewster Co., Threatened


Coryphantha ramillosa  

        Distribution: Stockton Plateau of E Brewster Co., W Terrell Co., Endangered



Coryphantha sulcata  

    var. sulcata  

        Distribution: Tarrant, Central TX Uvalde-Austin Co.-Mills, Duval

    var. nickelsiae  

        Distribution: Maverick, Threatened


Coryphantha cornifera  

    var. echinus  

        Distribution: TP, Val Verde, Maverick, Howard, and Cooke


Coryphantha strobiliformis  

    var. strobiliformis  

        Distribution: TP SW Terrell/Pecos N and W to El Paso, not Jeff Davis 

    var. durispina  

        Distribution: SW Brewster, Endangered


Coryphantha sneedii  

    var. sneedii  

        Distribution: Franklin Mtns, El Paso, Threatened


Coryphantha dasyacantha  

    var. dasyacantha  

        Distribution: Pecos, Brewster, S Hudspeth, El Paso

    var. varicolor  

        Distribution: S Jeff Davis, Brewster, W Presidio, Threatened


Coryphantha robertii  

        Distribution: S Val Verde to W Hidalgo, NW Duval


Coryphantha duncanii  

        Distribution: SE Presidio, Chisos Mtns Brewster, Threatened


Coryphantha missouriensis  

    var. caespitosa  

        Distribution: Kerr, Blanco, Lampsas, Walker, Austin Co. (near Industry), Bexar, Tarrant, Dallas, Kaufman

    var. robustior  

        Distribution: Benson says "from Canadian River…" p. 860, Hale, Young, Denton, Bexar, Travis



Genus Ariocarpus

Ariocarpus fissuratus  

Living rock

        Distribution: From Cameron to Pecos to Presidio



Genus Mammilaria

Mammilaria longimamma  

    var. sphaerica  


Mammilaria longimamma  

    var. sphaerica  

        Distribution: Maverick, Webb, Starr, Cameron, Duval, Kleburg, Nueces, San Patricio


Mammilaria heyderi  

    var. heyderi  

        Distribution: E Randall in Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and Burnet, San Saba to San Patricio and El Paso southward

    var. hemisphaerica  

        Distribution: Rio Grande Plain: Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy, Kleberg, Nueces, Jim Wells, ?Jim Hogg LB p. 871

    var. meiacantha  

        Distribution: TP: El Paso, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster


Mammilaria prolifera

    var. texana  

        Distribution: S. TX: Val Verde, Real, Bexar, Kinney. Webb, Hidalgo, Brooks


Mammilaria lasiacantha  

        Distribution: TP: Val Verde, Pecos, Brewster, Presidio, Culberson, Hudspeth, El Paso


Mammilaria pottsi  

        Distribution: W Brewster, Presidio, and Webb


Mammilaria grahami 

    var. grahami  

        Distribution: NW Presidio, El Paso, to C and W AZ


Mammilaria wrightii  

    var. wrightii  

        Distribution: Franklin Mtns, El Paso, to N NM


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