Cholla Cactus: Is It Toxic or Non-Toxic, Deadly or Non-Deadly?

is cholla cactus poisonous

Only the victim knows how painful it is to be pinched by cholla cactus barbs. Recently, I was riding a bicycle and suddenly, I slipped off the road to a cholla cactus field. I felt like I was in hell for a moment. Please give me a chance to share my horrible experience’ wisdom with you.

 Cholla cactus spines are not poisonous. But the pain from the barbs is so terrible; memorable how hurting it is. The barbs can affect the nerves ending parts of our body. Unfortunately, if the barbs get into deep tissues, they may damage those tissues with bruising and bleeding.

So, don’t miss the opportunity to learn and to be informed about A to Z  of cholla cactus toxicity. 

Isn’t it good to know everything related to cholla cactus-like danger, hurt, pain, can kill you, and source of food, etc?

Are Cholla  Cactus Spines Poisonous or Dangerous?

Cholla cactus spines are not so poisonous but dangerous for your life for sure. It can be dangerous when the barbs get stuck into your muscle tissue. As a result,  it may lead to bruising, shedding blood, and dying tissues.

Cholla cactus has chemical components known as oleocanthal, which is responsible for its toxicity.

A reflex to suck the painful glochids out of the skin can cause them to embed in the soft tissues of the mouth, tongue, throat, and windpipe, and may be fatal, advises KCET.

Gryphon Adams

What Makes a Cholla Cactus Poisonous?

Oleocanthal chemicals can make cholla cactus, jumping cactus, a little poisonous. Some harmful events can happen by this poison like:

  1. Avoid direct contact with this cholla cactus.
  2. Causes  irritation into eyes and mouth when come in contact.
  3. Vision power can be totally damaged.

Why Is It Dangerous to Touch the Thorns of the Cholla Cactus?

The Cholla Cactus is one of the most dangerous plants in the desert. This plant has spines that are covered with toxic needles, which can cause serious harm if you touch them.

The spines have a very strong grip on the skin and can cause long-term health problems. The thorns are also capable of breaking human skin and causing severe bleeding.

There are many reasons why it is not safe to touch these thorns

1) The spines may break off and get stuck in your body or clothing.

2) The spines may be poisonous to humans and animals.

3) You could get an infection from the spines.

The Cholla Cactus is a type of cactus that has dangerous spikes on the top. They have a sharp and pointy end on them. The thorns are small and sharp, but they can cause severe injuries if you touch them.

What Are the Toxic Effects of a Cholla Cactus Bite?

Humans and animals are not safe if they are bitten by this seriously harmful jumping cactus. Besides, some possible toxic effects are given below:

  1. Numbness in bitten area
  2. Swelling with pain
  3. Fatigue like lack of energy
  4. Headache
  5. Muscle cramps: contraction of muscles
  6. Dizziness- feeling faint

How Can You Tell If Your Cholla Cactus Bites Are Dangerous?

People who have been bitten by cholla cactus have mentioned some symptoms. These symptoms will help you to identify whether cholla cactus bites are dangerous or not.

  1. Too much pain in the bitten area.
  2. Redness or swelling to the bite area.
  3. Your skin color or texture will start to change.

Is There a Cure for Cholla Cactus Poisoning If You Swallow Some of the Needles?

Cholla fruit is poisonous and can kill a human if swallowed. It is said that the poison in the fruit is from the cactus needles, which are found on all parts of the plant.

The following are some of the things that you should do after eating cholla needles:

  1.  Try to vomit so that barbs can’t settle  into your stomach or throat.
  2. Immediately call a veterinarian
  3. If you are in pain, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen with proper doctor advice.
  4. Do not eat anything else for at least six hours. Because fasting is the best medicine.
  5. Drink lots of water and get medical attention immediately.

What are the Health Risks of Eating a Cholla Cactus Fruit or Vegetables?

It is enriched with a toxin named saponin. This toxin may lead you to some possible consequences like

  • Vomiting, 
  • Diarrhea,
  • Nausea.
  • Unable to breathe
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • A choking sensation

Moreover, this same toxin is also available in its leaves and fruits, which may lead to

  • Kidney failure and
  • Even death

To protect them from predators like herbivores, nature has given the cholla cactus a chemical called oxalic acid.

Are Cholla Cactus Edible?

The gourmets like me will try to taste the buds of the cholla cactus. But, what deterred them from tasting its flavor is its sharp spines. Luckily, all leaves, stems, buds, and fruits are edible but need to keep in mind that it has needle-like sharp barbs.

 Kimberly Engols and Season Eggleston say Cholla cactus buds are very healthy and contain as much calcium and an eight-ounce glass of milk.

There’s an assortment of cholla plants in the Sonoran Desert, including chain fruit cholla, pencil cholla, teddy bear cholla, the red-flowered Christmas cholla, among others. All the buds and the fruits of the cholla are edible, but the plants are covered with a thick layer of needle-sharp spines.

Arizona Public Media

Are Cholla Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

Cholla cactus is a nutritious fruit and very beneficial for both humans and animals like dogs. But don’t give as raw to your dogs. Peel off all the barbs, spines, and thorns from it before serving to your dogs.

Which Cactus Is the Most Painful?

There are some different opinions about the most painful cactus. From my personal experience, I can say with certainty that jumping cactus thorns will give you the highest pain-getting memory.


Almost all cholla cacti ( pencil cholla, chain fruit cholla,.. etc), I researched, are not poisonous but they are dangerous. They may lead your life to the endpoint if its barbs get deep into tissues. So be cautious while you are traveling or riding. Don’t let this rattlesnake( cholla) bite you.

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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