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The Plant of the West
The Cactus
• The Cactus plant is believed to be native
to the Americas.
• There have been calculated to be between
1,500 to 1,800 species of cacti.
• Cacti come in all shapes and sizes from
round and short through to thin and tall.
The smallest grow just about an inch high
and about 0.4 inches across. The tallest
cactus can reach heights close to 66 or
more feet and up to 5 feet in diameter.
Many different shapes and sizes
Some Facts
• In place of leaves, cacti have special
organs called areoles. These are like
buds and they are arranged regularly
along the ribs of the stem or on the tips of
• They produce spines which help to protect
the stems from being eaten by predators.
The Cactus
• Some cacti have swollen stems which contain
water-storage tissues, and the stems have a thick
waterproof epidermis, usually covered with a waxy
cuticle to help prevent water loss. Plants of this
type are termed stem succulents.
• The cacti typically have extensive root systems,
spreading just below the soil surface, so that they
can absorb even the relatively small amounts of
water that moisten the soil surface during light
showers of rain.
• The water is quickly collected by the roots
and stored in thick, expandable stems for
the long summer drought. The fleshy
stems of the barrel cactus are pleated like
an accordion and shrink as moisture is
used up. These pleats also channel water
to the base of the plant during rain
• To conserve water, cacti and other
succulent plants open their pores (or
stomata) to absorb carbon dioxide only
during the night when it is cool.
• Because of the nature of the cactus to
conserve water they grow very slowly.
• In the barrel cactus, growth may be as
little as 1/4 inch per year and most young
sprouts never reach maturity.
The Cardon Cactus
• It is the tallest Cactus in the World, mainly
found in parts of Mexico
• Some have measured up to 70 feet high
and weigh up to 25 tons.
• Cardon Cacti have also been calculated to
live up to 300 years.
• Like other cacti that are tall and narrow,
they depend upon bats for pollination.
The Cardon Cactus
Bats & Pollination
The Cardon Cactus
• Because it has no leaves, photosynthesis
takes place on its skin.
• Modified epidermal cells in the skin of the
stems, called ''chlorenchyma'' do the work
of converting sunlight to energy.
Prickley Pear Flower
Prickly Pear Cactus
• Life Span
They are known to live well over 20 years.
• Size
There are several different varieties of
prickly pear cactus each growing to
different sizes. The most common species
in the Sonoran Desert is the Engelmann
prickly pear which grows up to 5 feet tall
and can grow to a width of 10-15 feet.
Prickly Pear Cactus
• Both fruits and pads of the prickly pear cactus
are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers that
may help keep blood sugar stable.
• Has been of many uses:
• Mosquito Repellent
• Dye
• Paint
• Sunburn
• Treat diabetes
• Jelly
Prickly Pear Flower
Prickly Pear Flower
Prickly Pear Fruit