The La Cholla, or what its commonly referred to as the Jumping cactus, is a symbol of resilience and strength, thrives in this harsh environment, teaching us that beauty and life can flourish even in the most unexpected places. The nickname "jumping cactus" might be a bit misleading, as the La Cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida) doesn't actually jump. However, it has gained this nickname due to its ability to easily attach its spines to passing animals or people with minimal contact.
The La Cholla has segments that are loosely attached to each other. When an animal or person brushes against the cactus, the spines, which have barbed tips, easily latch onto their skin or fur. Since the spines are so good at sticking to things, it can create an illusion that the cactus is "jumping" onto the unsuspecting passerby. This mechanism helps the La Cholla to propagate, as the detached segments can then fall to the ground, take root, and grow into new plants.
I experienced this first hand while taking this photo. I was rushing to get the last light of this epic sunset and was soo focused on getting my tripod in place, that I didn't even notice that I had one of these big round pieces of cactus stuck in my leg through my pants until I felt the jab into my skin. Thankfully I was able to use my tripod leg to unstick it and finish the shot.
Here's Some interesting facts about the La Cholla cactus:
- This cactus can grow up to 13 feet tall.
- It's native to the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico.
- The La Cholla reproduces mainly through vegetative propagation. Its stems easily detach, allowing new plants to grow when they fall to the ground.
- The spines are covered with a papery sheath that reflects sunlight, providing shade to the cactus.
- Its flowers bloom from April to June, and they can be yellow or green.
- La Cholla cactus provides shelter and nesting sites for birds like the Cactus Wren.
- The seeds of La Cholla are consumed by animals like rodents and ants.
I think a trip back down to capture them in Full bloom next month might be in order!!!
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