A horrible shrub, or dwarf tree, four to six feet high, with a thick trunk and several, spreading, contorted branches, with cylindrical joints, twisting in awkward ways. The trunk and larger limbs are brownish-gray, starred with dead, dry spines, but the twigs are pale bluish-green, covered thickly with stars of pale-yellowish spines, each an inch or so long, with a barbed tip. From the numerous magenta flowers strange, yellowish, cup-shaped fruits develop, seeming to spring one out of the other in a haphazard way, hanging in long chains, awkward but rather ornamental, and remaining on the plants for several years without change, except that they grow slightly larger. The distant effect of this plant is a pale, fuzzy mass, attractive in color, giving no hint of its treacherous character - more like a wild beast than a plant! The joints suggest a very ferocious chestnut-burr and break off at a touch, thrusting their spines deeply into the flesh of the unwary passer-by, so that the Indian story, that this plant flings its darts at wayfarers from a distance, might almost as well be true, and the barbs making the extraction difficult and painful. The ground under the plants is strewn with fallen joints, which take root and propagate themselves. Small animals pile these around their holes for defense, several kinds of birds build in the thorny branches and are safe from enemies, and the fruits, being spineless and succulent, are valuable for fodder, so the Cholla is not entirely malevolent. The name is pronounced Choya. There are many similar kinds, some with very handsome rose-like flowers, others with bright scarlet fruits. They are curious and interesting inhabitants of the desert.
Cholla (fruit) Opunti fulgida. CACTUS FAMILY. Cactaceae.