Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Branched, very densely spiny, shrub-like succulent, up to c. 1.5 m. Segmented cylindric cladodes, up to 30 cm long, almost hidden by dense cover of clustered straight white barbed spines. Flowers borne near the apices of cladode branches, bright pink and white, showy; petals reflexed. Fruit yellow, berry-like, forming chains in older plants.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is reported from the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora and from the state of Arizona in the United States (Hunt et al. 2006). It grows from sea level to 1,200 m asl (Benson 1982, Paredes et al. 2000). This species has been introduced to other parts of the world where it has escaped and has become invasive, such as South Africa and Australia.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Opuntia fulgida Engelm.:
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Worldwide distribution

Native to Southwest USA and Mexico; naturalised in S Africa and the extreme south of Zimbabwe.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Southern Arizona, southeastern New Mexico, and Mexico to Sinaloa.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees 1-3 m; trunk divaricately branching; crown many branch-ed, spreading. Stem segments whorled or subwhorled, gray-green, often drying blackish, ± spiny throughout, terminal ones easily dislodged, 6-16(-23) × 2-3.5 cm; tubercles salient, broadly oval, 0.8-1.3(-1.9) cm; areoles obdeltate, 5-7(-10) × 2.5-4 mm; wool gold to tan, aging gray to black. Spines 0-12(-18) per areole, at most areoles to nearly absent, yellowish, sometimes also pale pinkish, aging brown, interlaced or not with spines of adjacent areoles; abaxial spines erect to deflexed, spreading, flattened basally, the longest to 3.5 cm; adaxial spines erect or spreading, terete to subterete, longest to 2.5 cm; sheaths uniformly whitish, yellowish to golden, baggy. Glochids in adaxial tuft, sometimes also scattered along areole margins, yellow, 1-3 mm. Flowers: inner tepals usually reflexed, pink to magenta, obovate to ligulate, 12-16 mm, apiculate emarginate; filaments pale pink to magenta; anthers white to cream; style pinkish; stigma lobes whitish to pale yellow. Fruits proliferating, forming long, branching, pendent chains, at maturity gray-green, often stipitate, obconic, fleshy, shallowly tuberculate, usually spineless; basal fruits 32-55 × 23-45 mm; terminal fruits 2-3.3 × 1.3-2.3 cm; tubercles becoming obscure; umbilicus to 8 mm deep; areoles 18-35. Seeds pale yellow to brownish, angular to very irregular in outline, warped, 1.9 × 1.5-3.5 mm, sides with 1-2 large depressions, hilum pointed; girdle smooth.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Opuntia fulgida Engelmann, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 306. 1856
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Ecology

Habitat

Sonoran-Sinaloan Transition Subtropical Dry Forest Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sonoran-Sinaloan transition subtropical dry forest ecoregion, which comprises a distinct zone of dry forest that forms a north-south transition between the Sonoran Desert to the north and the Sinaloan dry forests to the south. There is a generally low faunal endemism and faunal species richnesss; for example, only 310 vertebrates species are found in the ecoregion, with a notable lack of amphibians and reptiles present. Characteristically tropical species include the magnificent Black-throated Magpie Jay (Calocitta colliei). On the other hand, many more typically northern desert species are also found here, including Jumping Cholla cactus (Opuntia fulgida) and Fish-hook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wisliznei).

Bio-climatically, the ecoregion is classified as a dry steppe life-zone, in contrast to the more humid seasonal forests to the south, and arid deserts to the north. Like neighboring regions, rainfall predominates in the summers. Annual rainfall is approximately 10-20 cm. Because of its proximity to the coast, fluctuations in annual temperatures are only on the order of 10-15° C (difference between median monthly high and low temperature). Frost and temperatures below freezing are rare, in contrast to the Sonoran Desert, to the north. Unlike the distinctly xeric desert vegetation to the north, and the tropical deciduous forest to the south, the vegetation of the Sonoran-Sinaloan transition dry forest is dominated by a deciduous thorn forest or selva espinosa. Pockets of semiarid mattoral as well as thorn scrub are also present.

Dominant trees in this forest include many species from the families Acaciaceae, Burseraceae and Leguminosae. Cacti, such as Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi), are often conspicuous and abundant. Overall, this dry forest is less pronounced and more seasonal than its southern cousin, particularly as one moves north to the margins of the Sonoran Desert. Common and characteristic plants include several acacias: Boat-thorned Acacia (Acacia cochliacantha); and Sonoran Tree Catclaw or Tésota (Acacia occidentalis). The former, a shrub, or small tree, is the only local acacia with boat-shaped thorns. The latter acacia flowers prolifically in March, perfuming the air so heavily that it can often be sensed by scent before it is seen. Another common species in the thorn forest is Torote Prieto (Bursera fragilis).

A number of mammalian taxa are found in this arid ecoregion, among them the following special status taxa; Margay (Leopardus wiedii NT); Mexican Big-eared Bat (Plecotus mexicanus NT); Mexican Long-tongued Bat (Choeronycteris mexicana NT); and the Lesser Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae VU).

Although precise figures are not available, this region also supports a number of endemic and rare plants, including the arborescent morning glory or palo santo (Ipomea arborescens). This species flowers in the dry season, thus providing pollen to nectar-feeding long-tongued bats (Choeronycteris mexicana and Glossophaga soricina) – amongst the most important pollinators of the Sonoran region – at a time when few other plants are in flower.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In Arizona, this species occurs in the Sonoran desert scrubland in the desert grasslands. This species is a common plant in the Arizona high plains. In the Sonoran desert, it grows in wide open areas and in the thorn scrub of the foothills (Paredes et al. 2000). The species grows in coastal scrub, creosote scrub, and desert grasslands and is found on sandy flats and rocky slopes.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Sandy soils of valleys, plains, mesas, washes, and low hills in desert.

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Population Biology

Frequency

Locally abundant
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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).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

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).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Opuntia fulgida

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Pinkava, D.J., Baker, M. & Puente, R.

Reviewer/s
Superina, M. & Goettsch, B.K.

Contributor/s

Justification
Cylindropuntia fulgida is a widespread and extremely common species with no major threats. Hence, it is listed as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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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.

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Population

Population
This is an extremely common species.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no threats to this species.
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Comments: Most cacti are subject to horticultural collecting, for landscaping or hobby interest.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species occurs in several protected areas including Saguaro National Monument, Organ Pipe National Monument, and Ironwood National Monument.
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Wikipedia

Cylindropuntia fulgida

Cylindropuntia fulgida, the jumping cholla, also known as the hanging chain cholla, is a cholla cactus native to the Southwestern United States and Sonora.

Distribution[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2]

Description[edit]

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.

Closeup image of a cholla spine showing microscopic barbs which make removal extremely painful.

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".

Name[edit]

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.

Wildlife[edit]

During droughts, animals like the bighorn sheep rely on the juicy fruit for food and water. Because they grow in inaccessible and hostile places of the desert, populations of this cactus are stable.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Little. Atlas of United States Trees, Volume 3, Minor Western Hardwoods, Map 104, Opuntia fulgida.
  2. ^ Little. Map 104, Opuntia fulgida.


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Notes

Comments

Intermediates are known between the varieties, which are largely sympatric in northern portion of range of the species. 

 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.

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