Also Teddybear Cholla, Silver Cholla, Cholla Guera
|Opuntia bigelovii - Jumping Cholla|
This is a Jumping Cholla pod. Do not be deceived! Although they are small they are very painful. Each needle is sharp and has hundreds of microscopic scales. If one of them penetrates your skin, it is very difficult to remove. Worse yet, if you walk by a Jumping Cholla cactus and one needle snags you, the pod that the needle is on will detach and spring into your skin (your skin provides the spring--the cactus just detaches the pod). When this happens you will have several of the needles in your skin at once, and that's a problem. Let me quote from the New River Ruins experience we had:
When we were almost off the mountain and back on the road, my wife was swatting some bugs out of her face and her hand met a jumping cholla on the backswing. At first she thought that a cactus pod sticking out of her hand was funny, but then the pain kicked in. I had never tried removing a jumping cholla pod from human flesh before, so I wasn't sure what to do. First I tried just grabbing the end of the pod and pulling it away. As I did so the needles only tugged on my wife's skin and caused her more pain. Luckily I had some pliers on my knife, so we began trying to pull the needles out one by one, but since the needles were going every direction this wasn't very effective and might have even sent more needles into her palm. Finally I started cutting away the needles one by one with my knife. Once the pod was dislodged, we took the pliers and began yanking out the needles one by one until they were all out. Once the needles were out the pain stopped, but she was left with about 25 red prick marks. I've read since that the best way to remove the jumping cholla pods is with a comb, but I'm not sure I believe that. I think having some scissors to cut away the pod and then using pliers for the needles is the best method.