Cactus and Other Succulents
A cactus (plural: cactuses, cacti) is any member of the plant family Cactaceae, native to the Americas (with one exception, Rhipsalis baccifera, which is native to parts of the Old World). They are often used as ornamental plants, and some are also crop plants for fodder, forage, fruits, cochineal, and other uses. Cactuses are part of the plant order Caryophyllales, which also includes members like beets, gypsophila, spinach, amaranth, tumbleweeds, carnations, rhubarb, buckwheat, plumbago, bougainvillea, chickweed and knotgrass.
Cacti are unusual and distinctive plants, which are adapted to extremely arid and/or semi-arid hot environments, as well as tropical environments as epiphytes or hemi-epiphytes . They show a wide range of anatomical and physiological features which conserve water. Their stems have adapted to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have become the spines for which cacti are well known.
Cacti come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The tallest is Pachycereus pringlei, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 m, and the smallest is Blossfeldia liliputiana, only about 1 cm diameter at maturity. Cactus flowers are large, and like the spines and branches arise from areoles. Many cactus species are night blooming, as they are pollinated by nocturnal insects or small animals, principally moths and bats. Cacti range in size from small and globular to tall and columnar.
Cacti, cultivated by people worldwide, are a familiar sight as potted plants, houseplants or in ornamental gardens in warmer climates. They often form part of xeriphytic (dry) gardens in arid regions, or raised rockeries. Some countries, such as Australia, have water restrictions in many cities, so drought-resistant plants are increasing in popularity. Numerous species have entered widespread cultivation, including members of Echinopsis, Mammillaria and Cereus among others. Some, such as the Golden Barrel dekha Cactus, Echinocactus grusonii, are prominent in garden design. Cacti are commonly used for fencing material where there is a lack of either natural resources or financial means to construct a permanent fence. This is often seen in arid and warm climates, such as the Masai Mara in Kenya. This is known as a cactus fence. Cactus fences are often used by homeowners and landscape architects for home security purposes. The sharp thorns of the cactus deter unauthorized persons from entering private properties, and may prevent break-ins if planted under windows and near drainpipes. The aesthetic characteristics of some species, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them a considerable alternative to artificial fences and walls.
Cacti are perennial and grow as trees, shrubs, or vines. Most species are terrestrial, but there are also many epiphytic species, especially in the tribes Rhipsalideae and Hylocereeae. In most species, except for the sub-family Pereskioideae (see image), the leaves are greatly or entirely reduced. The leaves may also be tiny and deciduous as can be seen on new shoots of Opuntia. Spines found in the cacti are actually modified leaves; the stems (the green “pads” of many cacti) have also evolved to photosynthesize. The flowers, mostly radially symmetrical and bisexual, bloom either by day or by night, depending on the species.
Their shape varies from tube-like through bell-like to wheel-shaped, and their size from 0.2 to 15–30 centimeters. Most of them have numerous sepals (from 5 to 50 or more), and change form from outside to inside, from bracts to petals. They have stamens in great numbers (from 50 to 1,500, rarely fewer). Nearly all species of cacti have a bitter mucilaginous sap contained within them. The berry-like fruits may contain few to many (3,000), seeds, which can be between 0.4 and 12 mm long.
The life of a cactus is seldom longer than 300 years but may be as short as 25 years, (although these flower as early as their second year). The Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) grows to a height of up to 15 meters (the record is 17 meters 67 cm), but in its first ten years, it grows only 10 centimeters. The “mother-in-law’s cushion” (Echinocactus grusonii) reaches a height of 2.5 meters and a diameter of 1 meter and – at least on the Canaries – is already capable of flowering after 6 years. The diameter of cactus flowers ranges from 5 to 30 cm; the colors are often conspicuous and spectacular.
saguaro cactus,cactus plants,cactus plant,cactus seeds,cactus planting,growing cactus,cactus seed,cactus species,cactus nurseries,cactus nursery,cactus,cactus flower,desert cactus,cactus garden,cactuses,buy cactus,prickly pear cactus,cactus succulent,cactus photos,cactus picture,cactus pictures,cactus saguaro,cactus propagation,flowering cactus,cactus flowers,transplanting cactus,yucca cactus,cactus spines,cactus cuttings,cactus varieties,grow cactus,succulent cactus,ocotillo cactus,christmas cactus,cactus leave,eyote cactus,euphorbia cactus,cactus plants for sale,cactus watering,cactus succulents,agave cactus,barrel cactus,cactus adaptations,cactus carwash,opuntia cactus,pencil cactus,types of cactus,cactus society,star cactus,cactus image,big cactus,cactus classics,cactus gift,cartoon cactus,cactus fertilizer,fake cactus,mescaline cactus,indoor cactus,lithops cactus,cactus agave,