19 Amazing Cactus with Arms

Ralph Astley is a retired gardener from Philadelphia who specializes in outdoor plants and trees. With years of hands-on experience, Ralph not only cares for a diverse range of outdoor flora but also shares his extensive knowledge through well-written articles and social media posts. A trusted authority in arboriculture, he's committed to helping the community grow healthier, more robust gardens.
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Small cacti look great, but these Amazing Cactus with Arms will steal all the limelight. Don’t believe us? See for yourself!

Have you ever seen a cactus with arms? Believe it or not, there are several cactus species that defy the typical prickly, columnar cactus stereotype. In this post, we’ll tell you all about them.

Amazing Cactus with Arms

1. Dog Tail Cactus

Amazing Cactus with Arms 1

Botanical Name: Strophocactus testudo

Let’s start with the Dog Tail Cactus–it’s an interesting one because, in the wild, it can actually climb trees. Over time, its main stem gets thicker while the long, thin tails grow out from it.

These tails are what make it look like it has arms reaching out, all fuzzy with tiny spines. Pretty neat, huh?

2. Fairy Castle Cactus

Amazing Cactus with Arms 2

Botanical Name: Acanthocereus tetragonus

The Fairy Castle Cactus has clusters of thick, green stems that branch out in all directions. These stems are kind of bumpy and have ridges, which makes them look like the towers and turrets of a castle.

And though they don’t have real arms, all these branching stems reaching out definitely give that impression.

3. Saguaro Cactus

Amazing Cactus with Arms 3

Botanical Name: Carnegiea gigantea

The Saguaro cactus is basically the king of cacti! These giant guys can grow over 40 feet tall. They start off as single columns, but as they get older, they grow these amazing thick arms that reach out towards the sky.

Some Saguaros can have over 50 arms, waving in the breeze–like a friendly giant with lots of high fives to give! But don’t do it–they’re covered in spikes.

Fun Fact: Did you know? Small birds make holes inside the soft flesh of the Saguaro to build their nests, while larger ones build nests on the cactus’s arms. Here are more Saguaro cactus facts.

4. Devil’s Rope Cactus

Amazing Cactus with Arms 4

Botanical Name: Cylindropuntia bigelovii

The Devil’s Rope Cactus isn’t as big as the others! It looks more like a tangled mess than a cactus plant. It’s got these long, bumpy green stems that connect in a zig-zag way, kind of like a spiky rope.

That’s how it got its name. These stems grow in all directions, making it look like a tangled monster with lots of prickly arms reaching out to grab you–definitely not for cuddling!

5. Branched Pencil Cholla

Branched Pencil Cholla

Botanical Name: Cylindropuntia Ramosissima

The Branched Pencil Cholla has many thin, green branches that grow out in all directions, resembling a bunch of pencils clustered together. These branches are segmented, and some of these “pencils” might have a single long spine, like a sharp little pencil lead.

So, while it doesn’t have arms like other cacti, it has a bunch of spiky “pencil arms” reaching out in all directions!

6. Blue Myrtle Cactus

Blue Myrtle Cactus

Botanical Name: Myrtillocactus geometrizans

Unlike other cacti with arms, the Blue Myrtle’s don’t have many spines, so it looks more elegant than prickly. It starts with a single, thick stem that’s a cool blue-green color, almost like a dusty blueberry.

As it gets older, this stem branches out multiple times, forming these arms that reach upwards. These “arms” aren’t smooth and round though, they have ridges running down them, creating a cool geometric pattern.

7. Key Tree Cactus

Key Tree Cactus

Botanical Name: Pilosocereus robinii

The Key Tree Cactus is the giant of the Florida Keys! This cactus isn’t just sitting around like most cacti–it grows tall and strong, with a single main trunk that can shoot up to 30 feet, more like a tree than a prickly bush.

As it gets older, it even branches out with thick arms reaching sideways. Truly an amazing cactus with arms.

8. Totem Pole CactusTotem Pole Cactus

Botanical Name: Pachycereus schottii f. monstrous

The Totem Pole Cactus is a real conversation starter because it’s covered in bumps and ridges, giving it a knobby texture.

These bumps and folds run vertically along the tall stems, making it look like a totem pole carved with lots of faces. Once it matures, it branches out further and grows many different arms.

9. Jumping Cholla Cactus Jumping Cholla Cactus

Botanical Name: Cylindropuntia fulgida

The Jumping Cholla Cactus has arms that might look fuzzy and harmless with their light green, segmented stems, but don’t be fooled. These segments detach super easily, even with a light brush.

That’s why it’s called “jumping” cholla–a part can snag on your clothes or fur and hitch a ride like it’s jumping on you! These segments are covered in tiny spines, too, so getting a hitchhiker cholla stuck to you isn’t exactly pleasant.

10. Torch Cactus

Cactus with Arms 1

Botanical Name: Armatocereus mataranus

Torch cactus is a bit of a rare sight, but definitely worth talking about! It develops these segmented ribs that run vertically.

These ribs can give it a bit of a wavy look, but overall, it keeps that straight, impressive posture, like arms reaching for the sky. It even has beautiful white flowers that bloom at night.

11. Calico Cactus

Cactus with Arms 2

Botanical Name: Echinocereus Engelmannii

If you are looking for a small cactus with arms. Then this one is for you! You can find Calico Cactus growing in clusters with up to 60 stems in desert areas. But what really gives it the “arms” look are the spines!

These spines come in a mix of red, brown, and gray, all poking out in different directions–just like a patchwork quilt, which is how it got the name “Calico.”

12. Organ-Pipe Cactus

Cactus with Arms 3

Botanical Name: Stenocereus thurberi

The Organ Pipe Cactus is like a majestic forest all by itself! It has slender stems that rise from the base like arms. These stems aren’t smooth and round but curve and twist in all directions, resembling the pipes of a giant, old-fashioned organ–hence the name!

It might be a slow grower, but it can live for over 150 years.

13. Candle Cactus

Cactus with Arms 4

Botanical Name: Armatocereus rauhii subsp.

The Candle Cactus is pretty common in South America. Depending on the subspecies, it can grow anywhere from 13 to 33 feet tall!

Over time, this main stem can get thicker and branch out near the top, creating a few to several upright arms. These arms reach upwards, too, giving the whole cactus a beautiful, branching silhouette.

14. San Pedro Cactus

San Pedro Cactus

Botanical Name: Echinopsis pachanoi

The San Pedro Cactus is an amazing columnar cactus. It’s native to the Andes mountains in South America, where it can get really tall–some grow up to 20 feet! They don’t have actual arms, but they have these ribs running down their sides.

Sometimes, these ribs grow at slightly different angles, so from a distance, it can look like the cactus has little arms branching out. Cool, right?

15. Cane Cactus

Cane Cactus

Botanical Name: Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica

The Cane Cactus is another interesting cactus with arms that grow sideways just as much as they do vertically. These guys like to grow in groups, so you often see them in big patches. They’re easy to grow, too, and perfect for patios, balconies, and the lawn or backyard.

Some Unique Ones!

16. Candelabra Cactus

Candelabra Cactus

Botanical Name: Euphorbia ingens

Candelabra has a main stem that grows straight up and thick, with lots of branches jutting out from the sides at weird angles. These branches look a bit like candelabra arms holding invisible candles. This super cool cactus can grow up to 30 feet tall!

17. Jasminocereus

Jasminocereus amazing cactus varieties

Botanical Name: Jasminocereus 

There’s also another kind called the Candelabra–Jasminocereus. This one is more common in places like the Galapagos Islands.

It isn’t quite as big, but it gets its name from its main stem splitting into lots of thick, upright branches. They don’t grow quite as tall as the Euphorbia ingens, but they’re still impressive!

18. Giant Madagascar Palm

Giant Madagascar Palm

Botanical Name: Pachypodium laneri

The Giant Madagascar Palm might surprise you! It’s not actually a palm tree at all, more like a spiky cousin. It has a giant trunk that stores water, helping it survive in dry places like Madagascar, where it comes from.

Unlike palm trees with leaves all the way down, the Madagascar Palm only has lush green leaves at the very top. And although it has spines instead of arms, it does look a bit like a spiky pineapple with a leafy crown!

Note: It might seem like a cactus with arms, but it belongs to the Apocynaceae family, not the Cactaceae family.

19. African Milk Tree Cactus

African Milk Tree Cactus

Botanical Name: Euphorbia trigona

The African Milk Tree Cactus is another plant that’s not actually a cactus! It’s a succulent. These guys can grow really tall, like up to 10 feet!

They don’t have real arms, but their stems have these three flat sides with ridges running down them. They grow upwards and make it look like a cactus with arms from a distance.

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