Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cylindropuntia fulgida, Jumping Cholla

Jumping Cholla has pink to magenta flowers that open late afternoon; plants bloom from (June) April to September. Cylindropuntia fulgida Jumping Cholla has fleshy and mostly spine-less fruits that are believed to provide food and moisture to large herbivore mammals including Bighorn Sheep. Cylindropuntia fulgida Jumping Cholla, also called Chain-fruit Cholla or Hanging Chain Cholla are references to the plants persistent fruits that form long chains that branch. Fruits may remain viable on the plant for 10 years or more. Cylindropuntia fulgida Jumping Cholla prefers sandy flats, rocky slopes and rolling hillsides at elevations ranging from 500 to almost 4,000 feet. Cylindropuntia fulgida

Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia fulgida
Common Name: Jumping Cholla
Also Called: Cholla Brincadora, Chain-fruit Cholla, Hanging Chain Cholla; (Spanish: Choya, Velas de Coyote).
Family: Cactaceae, Cactus Family
Synonyms: (Opuntia fulgida)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 9 feet.
Growth Form: Shrub or tree; trunk divaricately branching; stem segments about 5 inches long, whorled or sub-whorled.
Leaves: Areoles gold to tan maturing gray or black; glochids yellow; spines about one inch long, 0 to 12 per areole, yellowish to brown, whitish sheaths, upper spines erect, basal spines also erect to deflexed.
Flower Color: Pink to magenta inner tepals; flowers open late afternoon; fruits gray green and obconic, fruits fleshy and spine-less, forming long pendulous chains that branch; fruits with viable seeds persist in "chains" for several decades.
Flowering Season: (June) April to September.

Elevation: 500 to 3,600 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy flats, rocky slopes and rolling hillsides.

Recorded Range: Jumping Cholla is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA and NM. It is also native to northwestern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cylindropuntia fulgida.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.

Threatened/Endangered Information: In Arizona, all varieties of Cylindropuntia fulgida, Jumping Cholla are salvage restricted.

Genus Information: In North America there are 29 species and 39 accepted taxa overall for Cylindropuntia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 43 accepted species names and a further 100 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 12 species of genus, California has 10 species, Nevada has 5 species, New Mexico has 8 species, Texas has 6 species, Utah has 3 species. Hybrids excluded, all data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 2 varieties in Cylindropuntia fulgida, Jumping Cholla;
Cylindropuntia fulgida var. fulgida, Jumping Cholla, (AZ, CA, NM);
Cylindropuntia fulgida var. mamillata, Jumping Cholla, (AZ).

Comments: Although rare, Cylindropuntia fulgida is known to hybridize with Cylindropuntia spinosior and Cylindropuntia leptcaulis in south-central Arizona.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Arizona Pencil Cholla, Cylindropuntia arbuscula, Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii, Gander's Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia ganderi, Klein's Pencil Cactus, Cylindropuntia kleiniae Christmas Cactus, Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, Walkingstick Cactus, Cylindropuntia spinosior and Baja Pencil Cholla, Cylindropuntia tesajo.

Wildlife Uses:
The fleshy, juicy fruits of the Jumping Cholla are thought to provide food and moisture to large herbivore mammals, including Bighorn Sheep, during drought conditions. Cattle relish the fruits and will even eat the spiny stems.

The former genus name Opuntia is a reference to the Ancient Greek city of Opus where and edible plant grew that could be propagated by rooting its leaves. A common culinary species in the genus Opuntia is the Indian Fig Prickly Pear, O. ficus-indica in which the plants and fruits are important in Mexico and arid and semiarid parts of the world. The current genus name Cylindropuntia adds the Latin and Greek words kylindros and cylindrus, which translated means cylinder, referencing the round cylinder-like stems and trunk.

The species epithet fulgida perhaps might mean something "shiny" as referenced from the Latin words fulgeo, fulgo or fulgeo collectively meaning to flash, glitter, shimmer, gleam or shine.

The common name "Jumping Cholla" is a direct reference from the plants detaching stems that easily "jump" off when touched, brushed or otherwise physically disturbed. The stems are able to attach themselves to human clothing and desert roaming mammals.

Date Profile Completed: 11/28/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Opuntia fulgida; Page 585.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search (accessed 07/24/2017).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 07/24/2017).
Donald J. Pinkava, 1999, Vascular Plants of Arizona: JANAS 32 (1): 32-47. 1999.
Donald J. Pinkava, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Cactaceae| Page 104, 106, 107 |5. Cylindropuntia fulgida (Engelmann) F. M. Knuth in C. Backeberg and F. M. Knuth, Kaktus-ABC. 126. 1935.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Chris A. Martin, Professor, Arizona State University on-line (accessed 11/26/2017).
S. Buckley, Editor: 2010; Benson 1982, Pinkava 1999; SEINet Field Guide;
Wikipedia contributors, 'Cylindropuntia fulgida', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 August 2017, 02:28 UTC, [accessed 26 November 2017]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Opuntia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 November 2017, 17:54 UTC, [accessed 26 November 2017]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Opuntia ficus-indica', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 November 2017, 17:54 UTC, [accessed 26 November 2017]
Nicole Marthaler, Native Plants of Arizona 2004; Cylindropuntia fulgida - on-line - [accessed 26 November 2017]
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,