AZ Arboretums

Opuntia fulgida

Jumping cholla

Common: Jumping cholla, Chainfruit cholla
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Opuntioideae
Origin: From Arizona along the Gulf of California to the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa. Occurs mostly in western mountains of Sinaloa.
Light: Needs strong sun
Soil: Best with good drainage

Very decorative. Use in containers for indoor purposes or mix with other cholla species for outdoor purposes. A more or less erect trunk, very ramified. Shrublike. Branches form a fairly compact corona, and are up to 8 inches long. The misshapen joints are easily removed and root readily. With age they develop an irregular crown and a woody, blackened trunk.

Mature size can be 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. Branches are fleshy and have prominent tubercles that bear small areoles at their apex. Areoles are covered with short white or yellowish glochids, bearing up to 10 spines each. Spines are yellow or brownish, enclosed in white papery sheath.

Flowers are about 1 inch across with a few red or light red petals, and bloom June to August. The green fruit is pear-shaped, two inches long.

Tolerates cold well if it is dry, but needs warmth and sun in summer. Propagation is by cuttings. Even the fallen fruits put down roots from their tubercles. Joints detach so easily onto clothing or flesh that it seems as if they jump. The other common name refers to the chainlike clusters of light green fruit that develop over the years.