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A cactus (plural: cacti, cactuses, or cactus) a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1750 known species of the order Caryophyllales. The word "cactus" derives, through Latin, from the Ancient Greek , kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant whose identity is not certain. Cacti occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade. In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis. Cacti are native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north—except for Rhipsalis baccifera, which also grows in Africa and Sri Lanka.

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The Flowers of a Cactus

Who would have thought that cactuses produce flowers? Usually they are thought of as being prickly and that you should stay away and especially do not touch them, but they can have such beauty that many may miss by keeping their distance! I got up close to this cactus to take this photo and came away unharmed. Don't be overly cautious about things because you might miss the beauty!

Contributed by Katie Otradovec


Don't push everyone away

Contributed by Michelle Ziegelbaur

Pretty little cactus arrangement

Contributed by Alyssa Edwards

The bombo leguero is an Argentinian drum made from different parts of a cactus. Info courtesy of

Contributed by Taylor Jackson

Cacti live in dry environments and use special adaptations in order to survive their extreme habitats. One of those adaptations is the spikes or needles that cacti have, which help them absorb humidity in the air around them and aid them in survival against plant eating animals. A cactus is also known as the "Stem", which also produces flowers and sometimes even fruit.

Contributed by Stephanie Lopez

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