Cylindropuntia leptocaulis  Christmas Cholla
CACTUS.  Smallest of the chollas in the Empires, with branches 1 cm in diameter or less.  Stems have large areoles and occasional long central spines.  Flowers greenish, bloom in May (buds shown above).  Fruits bright red, oval, 1-2 cm.  In the Empires, found in the driest, hottest sites on sandy desert flats or dry ridges with southern exposure.  Plants here are at the upper limit of their elevation range and are often frostbitten.  Compared to typical lower desert examples, they are unusually short and shrubby.
FAMILY:  Cactaceae (Cactus Family)