grows in the hot deserts of Baja California and far southwest California, in such places as the foothills of the Chocolate and Chuckwalla Mountains. It forms upright shrubs, 3 to 4 feet high, of easily-detached stems one inch thick and around 6 inches long, with prominent tubercles bearing clusters of 8 to 18 whitish-yellow spines. Some spines are noticeably flattened. In the US the species is found in the same region as the similar cylindropuntia echinocarpa
, and sometimes forms hybrids, making identification difficult, unless flowering (as the colors of blooms are quite different: reddish vs. yellow).