Scientific: Cylindropuntia fulgida (Synonym: Opuntia fulgida)
Common: Chain fruit cholla, jumping cholla, hanging chain cholla
Origin: Sonoran Desert from the Arizona desert foothills north of Phoenix south through Sonora, Mexico into the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
Pronounciation: Ca-lin-dr-o-pun-TEE-a ful-GI-da
Landscape Use: Xeriscape, accent, rock garden, barrier, specimen.
Form & Character: Upright to somewhat arborescent, stout, fixed, rigid, arborescent, desert dry.
Growth Habit: Succulent perennial shrub, branching with cylindrical, jointed stems (not pad forming) to 8- to 12-feet tall (often shorter) with a near equal spread. Stems and fruiting chains are pendulous.
Foliage/texture: Cylindrical stem joints about 5-inches long, light green with knotty ridges, aeorles on knotty stem ridges, sparsely cloaked with 1-inch wide white or pale yellow spines; coarse texture.
Flowers & fruits: Smallish magenta purple flowers to 1.5-inches across; spineless fruits fleshy and persistent. The key with this cholla is that the fruits are persistent and the fruit areoles keep producing more flowers, in turn producing more fruits. The end result is chains of fruits that give this cactus its name and chain fruit-like appearance.
Seasonal color: Nonthing dramatic as the spring flowers of chainfruit cholla are not as showy as other cacti and succulents.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained soil is required especially if used in an irrigated urban setting.
Watering: Very little supplemental water to establish and none once established.
Pruning: None, except to rarely reduce overall numbers and density of stems.
Propagation: Seed rare, more common is the easy rooting of detached joints.
Disease and pests: Root rot in wet soils.
Additional comments: Chain fruit cholla is a blue collar, 'work-man' like cholla in amenity landscapes, nothing spectacular just grows well. It is easily recognized by the chains of conical, green, spineless fruit which hang down from the end of each stem, remaining there for several years. This fruiting pattern is interesting, but otherwise this cholla is lacking the visual and textural accent of other related Opuntia and Cylindropuntia species. The variety mamillata (boxing glove cactus) is less branched, has almost no spines, much thicker stems, and more prominent tubercles.
There are 28 species in the genus Cylindropuntia. Other locally indigenious chollas include: