About Cactus

Cactus is an appendage of the succulent plant category known as “Cactaceae” which is a native of the America. Often, they are used as ornamental plants. However, they are also used as crop plants. Cacti are unusual and distinctive plants and are mainly conformed to extremely hot and arid environments. Often, they display a wide range of physiological and anatomical features, which help in conserving water. The stems of the cactus have enlarged into green lush structures bearing the chlorophyll essential for growth and life, whereas the cactus leaves act as the spines for which it is famous. Cacti come in a broad range of various sizes and shapes. “Pachycereus Pringlei” is the tallest amongst them having a maximum height of 19.2 meters. “Blossfeldia Liliputiana” is the smallest having a diameter of just 1 cms at maturity. The flowers of the cactus are large and just as in case of the branches and the spines develop from the areoles.

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Most of the species of cactus bloom during the night as they are mostly pollinated by small animals such as bats and moths or by nocturnal insects. The size of the cactus plant ranges from round and small to tall and pole-like. Although, majority of the cactus species develop on the ground, there are some epiphytic species of cactus also.  In majority of the species with the exception of Pereskioideae, the leaves of the cacti are entirely or greatly reduced. The flowers which are mostly hermaphrodite and radially symmetrical, either bloom during the day or night, largely based on the species of cactus. Majority of the cactus are either bell-like, tube-like or wheel shaped. In addition, the size of the cactus varies from 0.2 meters to about 15 to 30 meters. Majority of them contain numerous floral leaves and these floral leaves of the cactus, normally change form from inside to outside from petals to the bracts.

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The average life expectancy of the cactus is hardly larger than 300 years, although there are some forms of cacti which live only for a quarter century. However, the latter cacti flower early as compared to their counterparts having tercentenary life expectancy. Almost exclusively, Cacti are plants of the New World. This would hint that these plants are found only in West Indies, South America and North America. An exception to them is the Rhipsalis baccifera. This cactus species is well distributed in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Africa and tropical regions of America. One of the richest cacti occurrences in the world is in the Tehuacan valley of Mexico. It is believed that the cactus has evolved in the past 30 to 40 million years. Continental drift is considered to be the main reason why cactus evolved more in the new world as compared to Asia and Africa.