Thanks yet again to Eric La Fountaine for today’s write-up and photograph!
The Brown Mountain Trail, located in Tucson Mountain County Park just south of Saguaro National Monument West, near Tucson, Arizona, offers excellent views of the Tucson Mountains and the forest of massive saguaros, Carnegiea gigantea that spread out from the western base of the range. Near the entrance to the trail, is a group of very large Cylindropuntia fulgida. As I and my companion returned to the car the sun was setting, creating this gorgeous view as its glowing rays filtered through the spines.
These cactus grow in a branched treelike form 1-3 metres high. Flowers often develop on the small fruit in the following season, creating chains, which are the origin of its common name, chain-fruit cholla. The species has several common names, including jumping cholla. Unfortunately, I found out the reason for this name as I approached to take photos. Stem segments of this cholla and other cylindropuntias easily detach. My pant leg caught hold of a few broken segments on the ground at the base of the plant. The spines have a way of digging in, and pulling on one end seemed to drive the spines on the other end in deeper. I guess the pain was worth it.