Jumping Cactus

DSC_2500Growing up in Arizona, my parents sternly cautioned my sisters and I to steer clear of jumping cactus (cholla cactus).

The “jumping cholla” name comes from the ease with which the stems detach when brushed. These cacti do not actually jump. It is thought, however, that the softness of the soil in which the cholla typically grows is easily compressed. When this easily compressible soil is stepped upon (near the base of the cholla), the cactus leans toward the compressing entity, and the cholla segments (easily detachable from the main plant) affix to the compressor (giving the appearance of “jumping”). Often the merest touch will leave a person with bits of cactus hanging on their clothes to be discovered later when either sitting or leaning on them. [Wikipedia]

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9 Comments

  1. yikes!
    i’ve seen them things
    actually jump up
    from behind things
    and get me πŸ™‚

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    1. Your Ma and Pa shoulda warned you! I suppose you’re still plucking the little hooks out of your hide.

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      1. moved to AZ after grad school!
        they didn’t teach us about such
        practical things, like cacti!
        i think they’ve all worked
        themselves out πŸ™‚

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  2. It does look nasty MK!

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    1. Oh, I think it looks deceptively sweet, in an “I love you from a distance” kind of way.
      Thanks Val.

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  3. I remember being cautioned about them when we camped at Mojave. The are gorgeous when backlit by the sun though as in your shot!

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    1. Thanks Gunta. I did keep my distance when we went out to Joshua Tree National Park, where this was shot. Apparently there’s a whole “grove” of cholla out there, complete with a raised plank walkway to keep visitors safe. Sorry I missed that part of the park.

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  4. Yikes – It is clear that our environments and their hazards were very different growing up! I think poison ivy was the worst thing we had to worry about. Jumping cactus, snakes, etc. – you have to put those in your memoir. πŸ™‚

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    1. Funny, but I have no recollection of being warned about rattlesnakes — just jumping cactus and flash floods. The thought has occurred to me that a memoir would be interesting, if not just for an exercise in how a character (ME!) changes over time.
      Thanks Eliza.

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