Scientific: Canotia holacantha
Common: crucifixion thorn, canotia, castala, chaparro amargosa
Family: Celastraceae
Origin: A dominant perennial in desert scrub habitats, primarily on slopes or in washes, of the upland Sonoran and extreme western Chicuahuan deserts of mainly Arizona

Pronounciation: ka-NO-she-a hoe-la-KAN-tha

Hardiness zones
USDA 8-11

Landscape Use: For desert landscape design themes only as a background shrub, screen, or small tree. Canotia is a great plant for local desert horticulture restoration projects and desert parks.

Form & Character: Upright, open, VERY STIFF and rigid to spreading and somewhat pendulous with age, dry.

Growth Habit: Mostly deciduous woody perennial large shrub to small tree, VERY stiffly branched, slow growth rate to 10 to 15 feet with somewhat less than equal spread, stems are green (photosynthetic) and taper to a sharp and pointed tip.

Foliage/texture: Ephemeral, glaucous, alternate, widely spaced, deltoid, scale like to 1/8 inch long; fine texture.

Flowers & fruits: Canotia flowers are perfect (single flower containing both male and females reproductive parts), yellowish white containing five petals, stamens and anthers, sepals very persistent. Fruits are brown capsules, 1/4 inch long at maturity, minutely papillose with winged seeds, generally nondescript.

Seasonal color: None.

Temperature: Heat loving, cold tolerant to 15oF.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Canotia is very tolerant of alkaline soils. Prefers a fast-draining soil.

Watering: Needs no supplemental water after establishment in the landscape. Some additional water will dramatically increase the growth rate and eventual size of canotia.

Pruning: Very little to none needed (or recomended) except to give shape and to raise the crown in situations where a small upright tree form is desired. When pruning be VERY CAREFUL and wear protective clothing, gloves and safety glasses because of its stiff and rigid habit. Beware all you fainters!!! This native shrub can draw blood.

Propagation: Seed

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Typically this indigenuous large shrub can only be found for sale at nurseries specializing in local Sonoran Desert native vegetation. There is only one species in the genus Canotia.