The Q&A Archives: Attacking Cactus

Question: Not sure if this is the correct forum but my child was literally attacked by a cactus and we wanted to know what it was. She did not touch the cactus but it literally jumped out and attached a whole portion of it's plant to her calf. It was a tubular cactus and one of the complete tubes attached to her leg with it's spiny pricks. As I stated, she did not physically touch the plant, I was standing right with her. Could you give me an explanation as to what cactus it was and why it could have happened?

Answer: I expect your daughter came a little too close to a cactus called Jumping Cholla (Opuntia fulgiva, or 'Teddy Bear Cactus') Cholla are widespread over the hotter parts of the Southwest and are notable for their ferocious spines, which are sharp, grow very densely and are easily detached - they are covered with tiny reverse barbs that cause them to pierce and penetrate the skin of any approaching animal or person at the slightest touch - hence their other name of 'Jumping Cholla'. For more detailed information, visit one or both of these websites.

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