Cylindropuntia fulgida (jumping cholla)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cylindropuntia fulgida (Engelm.) F. M. Knuth
Preferred Common Name
- jumping cholla
Other Scientific Names
- Grusonia fulgida (Engelm.) G.D.Rowley
- Opuntia fulgida Engelm.
- Opuntia mamillata Schott ex Engelm.
International Common Names
- English: boxing glove cactus; boxing-glove cactus (C. fulgida var. mamillata); chain-fruit cholla; hanging chain cholla
- Spanish: choya
Local Common Names
- Australia: coral cactus
- Brazil: cholla brincadora
- Germany: leuchtender Feigenkaktus
- Portugal: cholla brincadora
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Recent biological control research has shown that it is the chainfruit cholla C. fulgida that is the densely spiny cactus invading dry savanna in South Africa and not the rosea cactus C. rosea. C. fulgida is similar in appearance to C. rosea but has characteristic chains of fruits that persist for years. In South Africa, these chains of fruits had not been observed because chemical and mechanical control since the 1960s had prevented the plants from developing to maturity. In an isolated infestation bordering on Zimbabwe, the characteristic chains of fruit were seen for the first time (Henderson and Zimmerman, 2003).
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Cactaceae
- Genus: Cylindropuntia
- Species: Cylindropuntia fulgida
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The genus Cylindropuntia (33 species) was separated from the larger genus Opuntia by Frederic Knuth in 1935. These 33 species often hybridize naturally, and many of the known populations are actually hybrids (Anderson, 2001).
C. fulgida is often misidentified as C. imbricata, C. pallida, C. spinosior and C. tunicata. However, it is easily differentiated from these other Cylindropuntia species by its fruits: C. fulgida is the only species of the genus in which fruits proliferate in long chains (Walters et al., 2011). In fact, its common name “chain fruit cholla” refers to this characteristic. The common name jumping cholla (cholla brincadora in Portuguese), refers to the ease with which the stems detach from the plants (it looks like they are jumping).
Within the species C. fulgida there are two varieties recognized: C. fulgida var. fulgida (the type variety) and C. fulgida var. mamillata (Anderson, 2001). C. fulgida var. mamillata is easily identified by the flattened and contorted, crested stem segments in its ‘forma monstrosa’ and its shorter, sparser spines. The sheaths of C. fulgida var. mamillata are also more tightly fitting, as opposed to the baggy, whitish sheaths in var. fulgida (Walters et al., 2011).
DescriptionTop of page
C. fulgida var. fulgida is a treelike succulent plant with a woody trunk and cylindrical cladodes that often grows 1-3 m in height. Its stems are light green and spiny. The terminal segments of each stem are easily detached. The leaves are reduced to spines, which grow on most areoles (0-18 per areole). The spines are long (2,5-3 cm long) and dense, thus obscuring the tubercles; the spines are enclosed in baggy, papery, light-yellow sheaths, which give the segments a whitish appearance.The flowers, pink to magenta, open in the late afternoon. The fruits proliferate in long chains. Fruits and stems act as propagules. See Anderson (2001) for more information.
C. fulgida var. mamillata is not as tall as the above; it has fewer and shorter spines with tight-fitting sheaths, exposing the distinct tubercles; the plant has a greyish-green colour; the stem segments are club-shaped, sometimes crested, flattened and fan-shaped (forma monstrosa).
Plant TypeTop of page Perennial
DistributionTop of page
The native range of C. fulgida extends from the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, to Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California in Mexico (Anderson, 2001). In its native range it is considered an extremely common species. Outside its native range, it is recorded as invasive in Australia, Pacific Islands and South Africa (Novoa et al., 2014). In South Africa, along with Opuntia aurantiaca, C. fulgida var. fulgida is considered the most dangerous cactus invader (Walters et al., 2011). In Australia, the variety C. fulgida var. mamillata is considered to be the most widespread and rapidly spreading of the opuntioid cacti (Lloyd and Reeves, 2014).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|South Africa||Widespread||Introduced||1940s||Invasive||Henderson and Zimmermann, 2003; USDA-NRCS, 2012; Novoa et al., 2015|
|Zimbabwe||Widespread||Introduced||1970s||Invasive||Environmental Management Agency, EMA|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Arizona||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-California||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|-New Mexico||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||USDA-NRCS, 2015|
|Peru||Widespread||Native||Not invasive||Peru Checklist, 2015|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015|
|-New South Wales||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015|
|-Queensland||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015|
|-South Australia||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015|
|-Western Australia||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
It is thought to have been introduced into Australia, Pacific Islands and South Africa for horticultural purposes, and for being used as a protective fence (Novoa et al., 2015).
IntroductionsTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
C. fulgida (both varieties) is currently being introduced and sold all over the world as an ornamental plant. Online stores sell seeds and adults of C. fulgida and ship them to Europe, Africa and Asia.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Scrub / shrublands||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Deserts||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Deserts||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Arid regions||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Arid regions||Principal habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
C. fulgida reproduces primarily vegetatively (being almost the only way of reproduction outside its native range): both fruits and stems are able to root once detached from the plant (Lloyd and Reeves, 2014; Walters et al., 2011). However, in its native range, although it still reproduces mainly vegetatively, a high percentage of fruits have fully developed seeds (Anderson, 2001).
Physiology and Phenology
Some studies suggest populations of C. fulgida are relatively short lived: they rapidly colonize new areas (by vegetative reproduction), and only die-off after 30–40 years (Bobich, 2004). However, observations in South Africa show no evidence of this, original populations of C. fulgida var. fulgida from the 1940s are most probably still alive. C. fulgida var. mamillata has not been studied over such a long period, so it may be short lived (Hildegard Klein, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa, personal communication, 2017).
Six species of endophytic fungi are known to be associated with C. fulgida (Sutyanarayanan et al., 2005).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Preferred||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Preferred||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Tolerated||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
The detached fruits and stems of C. fulgida can remain dormant for long periods of time. However, its vegetative spread can reach only a few metres per year (unless the segments are spread by floodwaters).
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
Its rapid, long distance spread is mainly caused by human or animals (livestock, small mammals) (Lloyd and Reeves, 2014).
C. fulgida is intentionally dispersed by humans for horticultural purposes. This form of dispersal occurs mainly through informal markets and internet sales. Accidental dispersal also takes place (mainly along roads).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Escape from confinement or garden escape||Plants and detached segments are often thrown over garden fences or taken to garbage dump sites||Yes||Mathenge et al., 2009|
|Horticulture||Gardeners take cuttings from their friends’ or relatives’ gardens to plant in their own garden||Yes||Novoa et al., 2015|
|Internet sales||Propagules of C. fulgida are easily found in online-shops to be shipped all over the world||Yes|
|Seed trade||Seeds of C. fulgida are easily found in online-shops to be shipped all over the world||Yes|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
C. fulgida has positive economic impacts, as an ornamental species. However, its spines (especially the spines of C. fulgida var. fulgida) can injure livestock and damage vehicles (tyres etc.). C. fulgida also reduces the carrying capacity and the economic value of the private land in the invaded areas (Mathenge et al., 2009). In rural parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe, villagers have been forced to abandon their homes due to aggressive invasion by this cactus.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
C. fulgida invades natural grasslands and pastures where it competes with native species for food and space. It also prevents the movement and causes injuries to wild and domesticated animals (Walters et al., 2011). Reptiles, birds, bats and other small mammals are frequently impaled on the spines and eventually die.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly mobile locally
- Reproduces asexually
- Has high genetic variability
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts livelihoods
- Produces spines, thorns or burrs
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
UsesTop of page
Uses ListTop of page
- Potted plant
- Seed trade
Detection and InspectionTop of page
C. fulgidacan be identified by its fruits (which proliferate in long chains). Walters et al. (2011) provide a useful identification key to distinguish C. fulgida from other common Cylindropuntia invaders.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
C. fulgida could be confused with C. pallida and C. tunicata. However, C. fulgida can be easily differentiated by its tuberculate fruits proliferating in chains. In South Africa, however, it was mistaken for C. rosea as the chains of fruits had not been observed because of chemical and mechanical control since the 1960s preventing the plants from developing to maturity. In an isolated infestation bordering on Zimbabwe, the characteristic chains of fruit were seen for the first time (Henderson and Zimmerman, 2003).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Within the family Cactaceae, Cylindropuntia, is of special concern regarding invasiveness (Novoa et al., 2015). However, many species of this genus (including C. fulgida) are still being introduced around the world as ornamental species. In order to prevent new invasions, in South Africa the genus Cylindropuntia was banned under national regulations (Novoa et al. 2015b). In Australia, the Cylindropuntia species are considered as Weeds of National Significance (Lloyd and Reeves, 2014).
The control of Cylindropuntia is complex and expensive: workers are injured during the control activities due to the spines; the plants can regrow from any detached propagule left behind after the control actions (mechanical control is therefore largely ineffective); and the plants are difficult to spot (Deltoro et al., 2014). In Zimbabwe, the plants used to be felled and burned, which caused severe respiratory complaints and injuries to workers, yet it was not effective and many plants regrew (EMA, 2017).
Chemical control has been used in South Africa to control Cylindropuntia species since the late 1970s, but is expensive and not overly successful (Mathenge et al., 2009). The herbicide, MSMA, is now being withdrawn from the market due to toxicity to game.
Biological control has been successful for controlling cactus weeds (Paterson et al., 2011), and is the only sustainable long-term solution. A promising biocontrol agent for C. fulgida (Dactylopius tomentosus, ‘cholla’ biotype) was collected from Cylindropuntia cholla in Mexico by South African researchers, tested in quarantine, and shown to be effective and safe for use in this country (Paterson et al., 2011). It has also been supplied to Australia, where it was tested in quarantine in Queensland, Australia (Lloyd and Reeves, 2014). In both countries, the cochineal is achieving excellent biological control of C. fulgida – in South Africa on both varieties (fulgida and mamillata) and in Australia only on var. mamillata, since var. fulgida is not invasive there. Dactylopius tomentosus is a cochineal insect whose host range is restricted to Cylindropuntia and a different biotype (‘imbricata’ biotype) has been successfully used for the control of Cylindropuntia imbricata in Australia and South Africa (Mathenge et al., 2009).
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Further research should be carried out to understand the ecological, socioeconomic and residual impacts that C. fulgida can have on invaded ecosystems.
ReferencesTop of page
Anderson EF, 2001. The Cactus Family. Portland, Oregon, USA: Timber Press.
Baker MA; Rebman JP; Parfitt BD; Pinkava DJ; Zimmerman AD, 2009. Chromosome numbers in some cacti of western North America-VIII. Haseltonia, 15:117-134. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2985/026.015.0112
Beer H De, 1986. Rosea cactus. Farming in South Africa: Weeds, A13. Pretoria, South Africa: Department of Agriculture and Water Supply.
Bobich EG, 2004. Vegetative Reproduction, Population Structure, and Morphology of Cylindropuntia fulgida var. mamillata in a Desert Grassland. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 166:97-104.
Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2015. Australia's virtual herbarium. Australia: Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.ala.org.au/#tab_simpleSearch
Deltoro V; Gomez-Serrano MA; Laguna Lumbreras E; Novoa Perez A, 2014. Bases para el control del cactus invasor Cylindropuntia pallida. Coleccion manuales tecnicos de biodiversidad 5. Conselleria d'Infraestructures, Territori i Medi Ambient, Generalitat Valenciana, Valencia.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Zimbabwe, 2012. Invasion of Opuntia fulgida (Cactus Rosea) in Matabeleland South Province and its Impacts on Community Livelihoods. Unpublished report. 1-14 pp.
Henderson L, 2013. Southern African Plant Invaders Atlas (SAPIA). Pretoria, South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute.
IPCN Chromosome Reports, 2015. Index to Plant Chromosome Numbers (IPCN), Tropicos website. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://tropicos.org/Project/IPCN
Lloyd S; Reeves A, 2014. Situation Statement on Opuntioid Cacti (Austrocylindropuntia spp., Cylindropuntia spp. and Opuntia spp.) in Western Australia. Perth, Western Australia: Department of Agriculture and Food. Goverment of Western Australia.
Mathenge CW; Holford P; Hoffmann JH; Spooner-Hart R; Beattie GAC; Zimmermann HG, 2009. The biology of Dactylopius tomentosus (Hemiptera: Dactylopiidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, 99(6):551-559. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=6545260&next=true&jid=BER&volumeId=99&issueId=06
Novoa A; Kaplan H; Kumschick S; Wilson JRU; Richardson DM, 2015. Soft touch or heavy hand? Legislative approaches for preventing invasions: insights from cacti in South Africa. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 8(3):307-316. http://www.bioone.org/loi/ipsm
Novoa A; Roux JJle; Robertson MP; Wilson JRU; Richardson DM, 2015. Introduced and invasive cactus species: a global review. AoB Plants, 7:plu078. http://aobpla.oxfordjournals.org/content/7/plu078.full
Peru Checklist, 2015. The Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gymnosperms of Peru. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/PEC
PIER, 2014. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html
USDA-NRCS, 2012. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/
USDA-NRCS, 2015. The PLANTS Database. Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center. http://plants.usda.gov/
Walters M; Figueiredo E; Crouch NR; Winter PJD; Smith GF; Zimmermann HG; Mashope BK, 2011. Naturalised and invasive succulents of southern Africa, 11. Bruges, Belgium: Abc Taxa, 370 pp.
Zimmermann HG, 1978. Opuntia rosea DC. In: Plant Invaders: Beautiful but Dangerous [ed. by Stirton, C.]. Cape Town, South Africa: The Department of Nature and Environmental Conservation of the Cape Provincial Administration, 166 pp.
ContributorsTop of page
30/04/15 Original text by:
Ana Novoa, Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB), Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Distribution MapsTop of page
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