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Cylindropuntia fulgida

Cylindropuntia fulgida

Thanks yet again to Eric La Fountaine for today's write-up and photograph!

The Brown Mountain Trail, located in Tucson Mountain County Park just south of Saguaro National Monument West, near Tucson, Arizona, offers excellent views of the Tucson Mountains and the forest of massive saguaros, Carnegiea gigantea that spread out from the western base of the range. Near the entrance to the trail, is a group of very large Cylindropuntia fulgida. As I and my companion returned to the car the sun was setting, creating this gorgeous view as its glowing rays filtered through the spines.

These cactus grow in a branched treelike form 1-3 metres high. Flowers often develop on the small fruit in the following season, creating chains, which are the origin of its common name, chain-fruit cholla. The species has several common names, including jumping cholla. Unfortunately, I found out the reason for this name as I approached to take photos. Stem segments of this cholla and other cylindropuntias easily detach. My pant leg caught hold of a few broken segments on the ground at the base of the plant. The spines have a way of digging in, and pulling on one end seemed to drive the spines on the other end in deeper. I guess the pain was worth it.

15 Comments

Wow! Maybe the pain will feel more worth it if I let you know that in the middle of three weeks of northern California rain, this warm, dry desert sunset picture is very welcome. Beautiful.

What a beautiful photograph.

This image reminds me of the mouth of an ice cave, cold and wet, even though the desert is a hot and dry place. Great (and unique) shot.

Practically all the photos you post, Daniel, seem to be from states and areas west of the Mississippi.

Don't get me wrong, they're gorgeous. But I was wondering if you might feature one or two from areas east of the Mississippi (i.e., Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Kentucky) once in a while?

Thanks for the great work you're doing at UBC. As a freelance writer and avid gardener, I appreciate the inspiration.

Wonderful back-lighting. Are the fruit edible?

Hey, TC - it won't be a problem to mix things up a bit again when I have some time, but right now, I am posting what people supply me with. 10 days in a row now averaging 12hrs/day of work on a project deadline cuts into my ability to ensure posts are varied.

wonderful picture
i think its great if one can
use the natural light

you will need to step with care in
florida they are called fire ants
back in to yuccas that will hurt

the palmetto bugs are big enough
to fly you to the hospital

Well, TC, I will look through my photos. I did grow up in the East, but I have only gotten good at taking photos recently. I guess since we are located on the west coast, most of the staff travels in the west. Our newest garden the The Carolinian Forest, will offer opportunities to show off some of the wonderful plants from eastern North America and see how they perform in the West.

Barbara, Edward Anderson writes in The Cactus Family that the fruits are collected and the gum of the plant is used medicinally. I also found reference to wildlife eating the fruit in times of drought. I don't think they are commonly eaten like saguaro or opuntia fruit though.

The fruit of most of the sonoran desert cactus are edible but first you must carefully remove the spines and guard hairs then you must separate the fruit from the multitudinous seeds. One fruit can have hundreds upon hundreds of seeds.

The seeds are small, around 1mm-3mm in diameter and are flat and black usually.

The fruit is many times extremely red and will stain almost anything it touches. It is also quite sweet and tasty, perfect for enticing animals to spread the seeds throughout the desert.

What a beautiful photo!!! Now, I want to go back down to the Tucson area and go on those trails again!!! It's very cold up here in Montana, would love a winter break!! If wishes were fishes, but maybe someday!! My hubby's brother hikes all over down there and the nearby states. He's around 67 I think and loves it. Once in a while he sends us some pics of his hikes. Anyway, thanks for sharing this great picture!!!!

"The spines have a way of digging in, and pulling on one end seemed to drive the spines on the other end in deeper"

The spines are barbed at the tip, which is why they dig in deeper. Nasty things!

>Vicious things!

It's a marvel to me that anyone can and does move around among these plants. Riding around on a horse would seem particularly hazardous. Of course, chaps can be worn - but it doesn't seem like everyone does, by any means.

1966...my friend..Betty Prater...had a dude ranch and stables in tucson...on the outskirts of town...she now has a dude ranch...in the middle of tucson...the same one...tucson got huge....so anyways....this older cowboy...would ride all day...through the desert...he would usually do this very drunk...alot...one night the horse came back...alone...the next morning....they found him impaled in a large bed of various cactus....now sober...but unable to move.....ouch!!

We have a species in southern California, Cylindropuntia bigelovii, which we also call jumping cholla for exactly the same reason. It is also called teddy-bear cholla because from a distance it looks fairly soft with a bunch of short, fuzzy arms like a teddy bear. Beautiful picture!

Hey, thanks for replying to my little whiney voice. Y'all do a wonderful job.

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