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CHOLLA: CHAINFRUIT

CHAINFRUIT CHOLLA

The chainfruit cholla, Opuntia fulgida, grows in low, flat desert locations of southern Arizona, where it can form extensive clonal colonies. The plants have a "tidy" appearance when young, but in age they can reach a height of 4 metres or more, with death of the lower branches. The young branches are densely covered with spines that have straw-coloured sheaths to reflect sunlight and prevent intense heating. The the long chains of fruits are the most characteristic feature of this plant. They usually are sterile but can be dislodged easily and fall to the ground, where they take root after seasonal rains.

The upper branches of chainfruit chollas are among the favourite sites for nest-building by the cactus wren because the plant offers a high degree of protection from intruders. The nest itself is made from soft materials - mainly dead grasses and other fibrous tissues.


Nest of cactus wren in a chainfruit cholla

This site is no longer maintained and has been left for archival purposes

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