School of
Integrative Biology

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Scientists study puncture performance of cactus spines

The spines of Cylindropuntia fulgida, also known as jumping cholla, have a reproductive role. They latch on to passersby and carry small chunks of cactus flesh to new locations.

Beware the jumping cholla, Cylindropuntia fulgida. This shrubby, branching cactus will – if provoked by touching – anchor its splayed spines in the flesh of the offender. The barbed spines grip so tightly that a segment of cactus often breaks off with them, leaving the victim with a prickly problem.

This is one of six species of cactus subjected to careful testing by University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Stephanie Crofts and animal biology professor Philip Anderson. The researchers, who study the biomechanics of puncturing plants and animals, wanted to know how spine structure influences its performance.

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau

Publication Date: 11/28/2018
Photo credits: L. Brian Stauffer
Editor: Diana Yates