Jump, Jump Jump Around

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What plant jumps more than a basketball player and is more painful than a shot?

Arizona, more specifically the Sonoran Desert, is home to a special plant nicknamed the “jumping cactus” and is feared by Arizona dwellers for a very good reason.  Its real name is the Cholla Cactus and it comes in many varieties.  

Ever seen a teddy bear?  Well, believe it or not, one of the more common cholla cactus species is called the Teddy Bear Cholla.  Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure of this cactus and a teddy bear for your comparison.

Hmmm, doesn’t connect with me… What about you?

Why do you think this cactus would be called a Teddy Bear Cactus?  Support your answer using the pictures provided and what you have learned about this cactus.

So, the Cactus isn’t all bad.  How is that, you say?  It’s full of poisonous barbs that are painful!   Here are a couple of stories about our classes run-in with a cholla cactus:

“My friends and I were playing in a desert wash by my house.  I went down to the bottom of the wash and landed in a pile of cholla cactus segments.  They were stuck all over my hand and forearm.  It was very painful.  My dad was trying to get them out but it was hard.  I was screaming and crying because they stung.  Finally, we got them out using a comb.”  by Kyle

“I was at my cousin’s baby shower and my grandma asked me if I could help her pulled down some tablecloths.  Near the tablecloth were some cholla cactus needles.  They stuck into the back of my arm.  They felt very bad and because it was just a few of them I was able to grab the needle and pull it out.” by Brooke

How can it not be all that bad?!

Well, the Cactus Wren, Desert Pack Rat, and various other species of desert animals use this cactus for their homes.  It provides a natural barrier for the javelina from predators.  People use it as a barrier so trespassers won’t go onto their property, and the skeleton of the cholla cactus is used for lamps, jewelry, and other household decorative items.

Cholla Cactus Video

What have you learned about the cholla cactus that you didn’t know before?


3 thoughts on “Jump, Jump Jump Around

  1. Dear Mrs. Fraher and Class,
    Once my cousin, Kensey came to Arizona. We went on the hieroglyphic hike up the superstitions. She didn’t know how bad a cholla cactus hurt. She was from Michigan, so she didn’t know what she was doing she reached out to touch the fuzzy cacti and it got stuck under her fingernail. She was quietly crying then some nice hikers came and removed the cacti with two credit cards. her finger hurt all day.

  2. When I was 11 a our car broke down on Superstition road (before there was a bashas or shopping center). We stopped and while my dad was fixing the car my friend was throwing rocks and we didn’t see the cholla cactus and it jumped and covered the palm of her hand. We ended up going to the Renaissance Festival and had a wonderful time after they helped with her hand. I try and avoid them at all cost after that day.

  3. Dear friend,

    Did you know that a jumping cactus is very dangerous it feels like blood is getting sucked out of your body so do not go near a jumping cactus.

    You friend,Zac

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