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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Opuntioideae
Tribus: Cylindropuntieae
Genus: Corynopuntia
Species yet to be assigned to Grusonia: C. nigrispina

Corynopuntia F.M.Knuth (1936)

Type species: C. clavata (Engelm.) F.M.Knuth = Grusonia clavata (Engelm.) H.Rob., Phytologia 26(3): 176. (1973)

Note: Synonym of Grusonia F.Rchb. ex Britton & Rose, Cactaceae 1: 215. (1919)

Knuth, F.M. in Backeberg, C. & Knuth, F.M. 1936. Kaktus-ABC 114, 410.
The International Plant Names Index

Corynopuntia, also known as club chollas (or "perritos" in Mexico), is a genus in the family Cactaceae, established by Knuth in 1935. Molecular phylogenetic studies suggest that it should be included in Grusonia, a view accepted by Plants of the World Online as of June 2021.


The name Corynopuntia comes from the Greek coryne, meaning ‘club’, and refers to the club-shaped branch segments, so "club opuntia", club cholla.

These opuntioid plants grow in low opuntioid cushions, consisting of rather ovoid or slightly clavate segments, from 1 up to 25 cm long, tuberculate, not ribbed, glabrous. Spines are strong, very prickly and dangerous, covered on their margins by fine denticles, with epidermal tunica (sheath) at the apex only. Flower generally yellow, few species have pink to deep magenta flower. Fruit narrowly obconic to ellipsoid, fleshy at first but soon drying, yellow to brownish, often stinky, generally full of glochids and spiny. Seed yellowish white to brownish, suborbicular or flattened. Most of the species belonging to Corynopuntia show a very similar morphology, apparently with few differences, so this genus was little studied. Recent in-depth field and lab researches are improving the knowledge about these plants, showing the existence of many undescribed species.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Whilst Corynopuntia members are morphologically similar one to each other, the mentioned research studies highlighted that wild club chollas rarely naturally hybridize when they grow sympatric.

The genus Corynopuntia was first set up in 1935[7] as a segregate from Opuntia, but was reduced to sectional rank by Benson in 1969 and slightly elevated again to a subgenus by Bravo in 1972. In 1999, Anderson included Corynopuntia in his enlarged concept of Grusonia.[8] Pioneering DNA work by Dickie in 1997, subsequent molecular data from Wallace and Dickie (2002)[9] and Griffith (2003),[10] and seed micromorphology studies by Stuppy (2002),[11] suggested that Corynopuntia should be reinstated as a distinct genus. This was accepted by the Cactaceae Consensus Group in 2006.[12] However, a 2016 molecular phylogenetic study of the tribe Cylindropuntieae showed that when separated, Corynopuntia and Grusonia were polyphyletic, and so combined them as Grusonia.[13] This is accepted by Plants of the World Online as of June 2021.[14]

The members of the genus Corynopuntia are native of South-Western United States (California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas) and Northern Mexico (States of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosì, Tamaulipas), from 60 up to 2000 m above the sea level.


Club chollas grow generally in very dry areas, on flats or gentle slopes, fully exposed to the sunlight or sometimes under sparse bushes. Depending on the species, they grow on sandy, loamy or gravelly soil. The stem segments of several species readily break off when touched: this is an important method of vegetative reproduction for these cacti, since the finely toothed spines stick to animal skin or fur, then the segment can be transported even for miles. The barbed spines can remain embedded in the skin, causing discomfort and sometimes injury.

List of species

Corynopuntia aggeria = Grusonia aggeria (Ralston & Hilsenb.) E.F.Anderson
Corynopuntia agglomerata = Grusonia agglomerata (A.Berger) E.F.Anderson
Corynopuntia bulbispina = Grusonia bulbispina (Engelm.) H.Rob.
Corynopuntia clavata = Grusonia clavata (Engelm.) H. Rob.
Corynopuntia emoryi = Grusonia emoryi (Engelm.) Pinkava
Corynopuntia grahamii = Grusonia grahamii (Engelm.) H. Rob.
Corynopuntia guccinii = Grusonia guccinii (D.Donati) Bárcenas & H.M.Hern.
Corynopuntia invicta = Grusonia invicta (Brandegee) E.F.Anderson
Corynopuntia kunzei = Grusonia kunzei (Rose) Pinkava
Corynopuntia marenae = Grusonia marenae (S.H.Parsons) E.F.Anderson
Corynopuntia moelleri = Grusonia moelleri (A.Berger) E.F.Anderson
Corynopuntia parishii = Grusonia parishii (Orcutt) Pinkava
Corynopuntia robertsii = Grusonia robertsii Rebman
Corynopuntia schottii = Grusonia schottii (Engelm.) H.Rob.
Corynopuntia vilis = Grusonia vilis (Rose) H. Rob.


Rebman, J. (2006) A new club cholla, Grusonia robertsii (Cactaceae) from Baja California Sur, Mexico. Madrono 53(3):278-281
Donati, D.(2010) Una nuova, eccezionale specie appartenente al genere Corynopuntia Knuth: Corynopuntia guccinii sp. nov., in Piante Grasse 30(3): 115-119
Donati, D. (2011) Nuovo studio sul gruppo clavata del genere Corynopuntia Knuth: riscoperta di C. agglomerata e descrizione di C. bulbispina subsp. basileocephala subsp. nov., in Piante Grasse 31(1): 17
Donati, D., in Piante Grasse 32(2): 7. 2012
Donati, D. (2013) New data from the habitats of Corynopuntia marenae and Corynpuntia reflexispina, in Cactusworld 31(1): 55-60
Donati, D. (2014) Technical and taxonomical notes on Corynopuntia robertsii. Cactus and Succulent Journal of America 86(2): 73-75
Knuth, F. M. (1935) Corynopuntia. Kaktus-ABC. Gyldendals Forlagstrykkeri, Copenhagen.
Anderson, E. F. (1999) Some nomenclatural changes in the Cactaceae, subfamily Opuntioideae. Cact. Succ. J. (US) 71: 324–325
Wallace, R. S. and Dickie, S. J. (2002) Systematic implication of chloroplast DNA sequence variation in subfam. Opuntioideae (Cactaceae). Succ. Pl. Res. 6: 9–24.
Griffith, M. P. (2003) Grusonia pulchella classification and its impacts on the genus Grusonia: morphological and molecular evidence. Haseltonia 9: 86–93
Stuppy, W. (2002) Seed characters and generic classification of Opuntioideae. Succ. Pl. Res. 6: 25–58.
Hunt, D. (2006) The New Cactus Lexicon. DH Books, Millborne Port
Bárcenas, Rolando T. (2016). "A molecular phylogenetic approach to the systematics of Cylindropuntieae (Opuntioideae, Cactaceae)". Cladistics. 32: 351–359. doi:10.1111/cla.12135.
"Grusonia K.Schum". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2021-06-19.

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