in C. Backeberg and F. M. Knuth, Kaktus-ABC, 125. 1935
Shrubs, decumbent to erect, essentially trunkless, 0.3–2.5 m. Stem segments green to purplish green, 6–30 × 1.5–2.5 cm; tubercles prominent, oval to elongate-elliptic, 0.7–3 cm, sometimes appearing as ribs; areoles elliptic, 4.5–5 × 3–3.5 mm; wool tan, aging dark gray. Spines (0–)7–13(–20) per areole, at most areoles, rarely obscuring stems, yellow to orange-brown with yellow tips, aging dark gray, subequal or 1–6(–7) much longer to 3 cm; sheaths whitish or gold to brown, moderately loose. Glochids yellow-tan to red-brown in dense adaxial crescent and scattered, stouter ones at basal margins. Flowers: inner tepals yellow to greenish yellow; outer ones tipped red, 15–30 mm; filaments green or yellow; anthers yellow; style light green or cream-white (rarely pinkish) apically; stigma lobes cream-white to yellow. Fruits green to yellowish, drying gray-tan, short top-shaped to subspheric, 15–32 × 13–26 mm, leathery-dry, tuberculate, few spined or spineless; proximal tubercles longest; umbilicus deep; rim slightly flanged; areoles 13–30. Seeds tan, squarish to angular in outline, warped, (4–)5–7 × 4–5 mm, sides with 2–4 deep depressions; girdle smooth.
Varieties 4 (2 in the flora).
|1||Shrubs, suberect to decumbent; stem tubercles oval, shorter, usually 0.7-1.5 cm; spines/areole usually subequal||Cylindropuntia californica var. californ|
|1||Shrubs, suberect to erect; stem tubercles elliptic, longer, usually 1.5-3 cm; spines/areole commonly with 1(-3) central spines much longer||Cylindropuntia californica var. parkeri|