The 3 Medicinal Uses of Cholla Cactus( You Will Be Surprised)

Medicinal Uses of Cholla Cactus

The cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida var. mammillata) is a plant of the opuntia family. The species name is Opuntia fulgida. This plant has many uses and medicinal properties. It has been used as a food and medicine by several Native American tribes. It was also used for making fences, toys, and utensils. The fruit of this plant is edible and sweet tasting.

In modern times, humans are more dependent on plants than ever before. We use them for food, medicine, and to clean the air we breathe. Plants also provide us with shade and beauty. Therefore, it is very important to know the uses of plants. 

Like most cacti, chollas have tubercles — small, wart-like projections on the stems — from which sharp spines — actually modified leaves — grow. But chollas are the only cactus with papery sheaths covering their spines. These sheaths are often bright and colorful, providing the cactus with its distinctive appearance.

“The local name for these cacti with straight and branching trunks is cholla.”

General Information

Most cholla cactus have orange or greenish-yellow flowers with a variety of colors, even among the same species. Most species bloom April through June, depending on local conditions. Chollas may appear as ground creepers, shrubs, or trees, varying in height from less than a foot (Club or Devil Cholla) to as much as 15 feet (Chain-Fruit Cholla).

Common Name(s): coastal cholla cactus, choya, cholla costera
Family Name: Cactaceae
Genus: Opuntia
Species:  prolifera
Indigenous Name: choya

1. Cholla Medicinal Uses I Buy from

Chollas have been used in medicine since ancient times. They have been an important part of Indian herbal medicine since the Vedic period. 

Cholla, a common thorny cactus, has many medicinal uses. The entire plant can be used for many purposes. The main components of the Cholla are the fruit, stem, and sap.

Benefits: The roots serve to cleanse the kidneys. 

Medicinal Purpose: Burns, Gastrointestinal disorders, and Urinary tract problems.

Part Used: cactus meat, under the skin, which is called “tuna”

Preparation: Stripped and Roasted. The taste and texture of the roasted fruit is similar to that of a pear or apple, with a small touch of citrus flavor.

Administration: Poultice (ointment, cream,); a soft, moist mass of material, typically of plant material or flour, applied to the body to relieve soreness and inflammation and kept in place with a cloth.

Explanation: The cactus must be roasted, and then applied to burns and wounds.

Related Plant Lore: The Cholla cactus becomes tall and heavy, and collapses, that is how it spreads.

Outside of its native range, C. fulgida is used as an ornamental plant. In some rural areas, it is regarded as a medicinal plant and snake barrier. 

“The Hopi used roots of cholla cactus (Opuntia species) to treat diarrhea, and Navajos used cholla to treat arthritis.”….MadSci Network: Botany

2. Part of Cholla Used

There are many uses of cholla (Cylindropuntia spp.), but one should be aware of which parts of the plant are edible or not. Some Cholla parts are edible while others may be toxic.

Hence, you should know which part of the plant is used for a particular need. Part of Cholla used are: Leaves and Stem.

Uses List


  • Ornamental


  • Potted plant
  • Seed trade

Aesthetic Uses: Landscape Designing and Showy Purposes.

3. Food Uses

Medicinal Purpose: The cholla cactus is consumed for its protein content and ability to hold water in arid climates.

Part Used: The roots and stems are used. The stems are used for the meat under the spikes and skin, and the roots for a water source.

Preparation: The cholla cactus has to be roasted before being eaten. Cholla buds are often roasted after the spines are removed. This is a process often used by the O’odohom. 

Administration: poultice

Explanation: the meat or “tuna” of the cactus is roasted and then ground, thereby preparing it to be ingested.

Related Plant Lore: The cholla cactus is also called a “jumping cactus” because of the way that it will spread, its sharp spines apparently “jumping” onto people’s clothes or animal coats.

“O’odoham and other desert-dwelling people ate the flower buds of some species of cholla..”The Incredible Edible Desert

5 Reasons to Be Interested in Cholla Cactus

  1. Perennial.
  2. Shrub.
  3. Succulent.
  4. Tree.
  5. Vegetatively propagated.

6 Little Known Facts About Cholla Cactus

  1. Cylindropuntia fulgida is a shrubby species belonging to the Cactaceae family that grows wild in northeastern Mexico and the southeastern United States.
  2.  It is a very branched columnar species that can reach +/-3 meters in height.
  3.  The type species is little used as an ornamental plant due to its hardiness and general unattractiveness of the plant.
  4.  In any case, the crested form of this species is commercialized on a large scale since, in addition to developing more attractive stems, does not exceed 60 cm in height.
  5.  The areolas are circular, they present a poor whitish luminosity and from them emerge the leaves, flowers, fruits, and thorns.
  1. The thorns have a whitish coloration with brown tips, they are fine, firm, very sharp, and fall with time.

“Cholla cactus buds are very healthy and contain as much calcium as an eight-ounce glass of milk. They are also very rich in fibers and help regulate blood sugars (Brody 2010).”…….The Incredible Edible Desert

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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