The cane cholla or tree cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata) is often conspicuous because of its shrubby or even tree-like size, its silhouette, and its long-lasting yellowish fruits. The above-ground part consists of of a number of succulent, cylindrical segments (joints) about 2-3 cm in diameter.
These segments grow mostly end to end and possess areoles which contain glochids (very small, detachable barbed bristles) adjacent to the longer spines.
Long spines possess papery detachable sheath. Leaves occur at the base of are-oles and are usually not seen on mature segments as they are shed early. A typical height is about 1 m, but exceptionally it can grow to 4.6 m with a "trunk" diameter of 25 cm. Flowers and fruit form within or near areoles on upper stem segments.
Flowers vary through shades or dark pink and purple with a boss of yellow stamens and bright white stigmas, and is said to be a shy bloomer until it reaches 60 cm tall.
This plant may live 20 years or more when well pleased with its environment. In addition to the typical species (var. imbricata), two varieties are recognized from West Texas: var. argentea with silvery spines, and var. arborescens, which is taller.