Cylindropuntia fulgida


Cylindropuntia fulgida (Jumping Cholla Cactus) is native to the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

The "jumping cholla" name comes from the ease with which the stems detach when brushed, giving the impression that the stem jumped. 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. The ground around a mature plant will often be covered with dead stems, and young plants are started from stems that have fallen from the adult. They attach themselves to desert animals and are dispersed for short distances.

Other names for this cactus include the hanging chain cholla, chain fruit cholla, cholla brincadora, and velas de coyote.


I can't hear a thing today.
The snow is the loudest act
in town.

I drop macaroni on the
exhausted kitchen floor.
I look down and see cactus,
the spiked, pale yellow
hitchhikers of our July. 

I can see your California 
canvas shoes in the dust
and remember the cholla
that poked through, claiming
your brown skin as home.
That, I saw coming.

So like you, to wear those 
flimsy shoes in the garden 
of fantastical leaping quills.

I've lost the macaroni
to a dog.

I want to hold your foot,
make sure this time
that we've gotten it all.

I want to bid that clever, 
unwelcome traveler farewell.
Next time, I'd insist on better
shoes for us both. But I'd still
leave the car running, the air
blasting cold and kind and
forgiving for us two: stupid 
and stubborn both, to wander
so far into the cholla maze
on a day already burning brown 
at the edges.

Better shoes, a longer lens.
What would you change?