Hanging Chain Cholla, Jumping Cholla, Cholla Brincadora, Vilas de Coyote
Elevation: 4000ft above sea level
Location: Chain Fruit Cholla species can be found in the deserts of southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico.
Descriptions: The Chain Fruit Cholla is characterized as segmented or “chain-like” stems/fruit that are irregular and drooping. Each Segment is covered with sharp spines. Chain Fruit Cholla produce pink colored flowers give rise to green fleshy fruit. Fruits of the Chain Fruit Cholla fall to the ground as they age, allowing new “chains” to grow by taking root to produce further Chain Fruit Cholla. Some detached segments attach to wildlife coats before taking root and then are dispersed throughout the desert. The Chain Fruit Cholla is the largest in the family with a maximum growth of 15 feet in height and 6 feet across.
****Alien and Invasive Species Regulations (AIS), National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No 10 of 2004), chain-fruit cholla has been declared a category 1b, which necessitates its control, or removal and destruction if possible. No trade or planting is allowed. -http://www.arc.agric.za/arc-ppri/Pages/Chain-fruit-cholla.aspx
Global Range: Southern Arizona, southeastern New Mexico, and Mexico to Sinaloa.
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Sandy soils of valleys, plains, mesas, washes, and low hills in desert.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Comments: Eighty-two collections from U.S. mapped in Benson (1982).
Life History and Behavior
As in this species, some Opuntia are referred to as 'jumping cacti' because they can break off from their parent plants, easily take root and have retrorsely-barbed spines that attach to animals. It is not uncommon to find monocultures of clonal individuals. It is also known in O. fulgida that its fleshy fruits can break-off and become vegetative propagules (Rebman and Pinkava 2001).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Opuntia fulgida
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Opuntia fulgida (which is comprised of two varieties) is in southern Arizona, southeastern New Mexico, and Mexico as far southward as Sinaloa; sometimes common.
Comments: Most cacti are subject to horticultural collecting, for landscaping or hobby interest.
The greatest range of the jumping cholla is the entire of Sonora, except the Sierra Madre Occidental cordillera on the east and northeast; the range stops 100 mi north of the Sinaloa border on the south, and it is not found in the northwest in the Gran Desierto de Altar. It does occur on the islands in the Gulf of California, including the major islands of Tiburon and Isla Ángel de la Guarda.
In the Southwestern United States, the range extends into the Colorado Desert of California, and in Arizona. There it occurs south and southwest of the Arizona transition zone of the Mogollon Rim; in the northwest-central Sonoran Desert of Arizona, it is in a few selected locales. It also reaches into the northeast section of the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada and Utah, and in the very southern section of the Great Basin Desert of southern Utah. It also occurs just south of the east-west section of the Bill Williams River, east of the Colorado River in the Yuma Desert.
It grows at elevations ranging from 300 to 1000 m (1000 to 3000 ft). While the name "jumping cholla" is applied especially to this species, it is also used as a general term for all chollas.
The jumping cholla is an arborescent (tree-like) plant with one low-branching trunk. It often grows to heights of 4 m (12 ft), with drooping branches of chained fruit. The stems are light green and are strongly tuberculate, with tubercles (small, wart-like projections on the stems) measuring 6 to 9 mm. Together, the plants form fantastic looking forests that may range over many hectares.
Leaves have been reduced to spines, 6 to 12 of which grow from each areole. Young branches are covered with 2 to 3 cm (0.5 to 1 in) silvery-yellow spines, which darken to a gray color with age. These spines form a dense layer that obscures the stems. Slower growing or older branches have sparse and/or shorter spines. As the spines fall off of older parts, the brown-black bark is revealed. It becomes rough and scaly with age.
Flowers are white and pink, streaked with lavender. They are about one inch wide, and are displayed at the joint tips (or old fruit tips), blooming in mid-summer.
Most of the fleshy, green fruits are sterile, pear-shaped to nearly round, wrinkled with a few spines. They are typically about 4 cm (1.5 in) long, often producing flowers the following year which add new fruits to those of previous seasons. It is these hanging chains of fruit which give it the name "hanging chain cholla".
The "jumping cholla" name comes from the ease with which the stems detach when brushed, giving the impression that the stem jumped. Often the merest touch will leave a person with bits of cactus hanging on their clothes to be discovered later when either sitting or leaning on them. The ground around a mature plant will often be covered with dead stems, and young plants are started from stems that have fallen from the adult. They attach themselves to desert animals and are dispersed for short distances.
Other names for this cactus include chain fruit cholla, cholla brincadora, and velas de coyote.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cylindropuntia fulgida.|
- Teddy-bear cholla
- Cholla the painting horse, a horse with a special skill in painting named after the Jumping Cholla
- Little. Atlas of United States Trees, Volume 3, Minor Western Hardwoods, Map 104, Opuntia fulgida.
- Little. Map 104, Opuntia fulgida.
Cylindropuntia fulgida forms hybrids with C. spinosior (see 6. C. ×kelvinensis) and C. leptocaulis. Hybrids, which are rare in south-central Arizona, have stems of intermediate diameter, (0-)1-5 spines per areole, one spine much longer than others, and spineless, yellowing, and often reddish fruits in chains of four to six, or more.