Cactus Is one American Plant

The cactus family members is among the most conveniently recognized plant families in the world. Their beautiful blossoms, special stems and unusual shapes lure thousands of human being to the desert each year. Cactus, together a plant family, show variations in between the separation, personal, instance species. They selection from the three-inch fishhook cactus nestled in a rock crevice to the towering saguaro cactus i m sorry reaches heights of 30 come 40 feet. Cactus grow on rocky hillsides, alluvial fans and also in barren washes throughout the desert.

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Natural History

Cactus is one American plant family members not indigenous to Europe, Africa or Australia. Very small is known about early cactus plants because only two cactus fossils have ever before been found. The oldest, found in Utah, days to 50 million years back and was similar to today"s prickly pear.

Cactus plants probably thrived in a tropical atmosphere until around 65 million years back when, in much of California, the climate changed from year-round rainfall to a sample of dried summers and wet winters. Later, once the desert started to type as the Sierra Nevada and also Peninsular ranges rose and blocked rainfall to the east valleys, the cactus adjusted to the dry, desert conditions.

Although cactus room synonymous with desert regions, lock are uncovered in part unlikely places. In the lush, tropical areas of Mexico, south America and also some Caribbean Islands, tall columnar cactus grow among hanging vines and large-leaved trees. One varieties grows in ~ an key of 11,000 feet in the Sierra Nevadas.

Adaptations come the Desert

Cactus owe your success in the desert to their structural adaptations. While various other desert plants may have similar features such together spines and also succulent stems, this evolutionary traits with a janice in the cactus.

Cactus take advantage of the lightest rainfall by having roots close come the floor surface. The water is quickly gathered by the roots and also stored in thick, expandable stems for the lengthy summer drought. The fleshy trunk of the barrel cactus space pleated prefer an accordion and shrink together moisture is provided up. These pleats also channel water come the basic of the plant during rain showers.

When water is no longer obtainable in the summer, plenty of desert shrubs drop your leaves and also become dormant. Cactus continue to photosynthesize due to the fact that they have fixed spines rather of leaves. The eco-friendly stems produce the plant"s food, yet lose less water than leaves due to the fact that of your sunken pores and also a waxy coating ~ above the surface ar of the stem. The pores close during the head the the day and also open at night to release a little amount of moisture.

The thick network of spines shades the stems, keeping them cooler 보다 the neighboring air. Many barrel cactus lean to the south so the a minimum the body surface is exposed come the drying impact of the midday sun. Cactus salary a price because that these water-saving adaptations -- sluggish growth. Expansion may it is in as little as 1/4 customs per year in the barrel cactus, and most young sprouts never reach maturity.

Uses that Cactus

For many animals such together the bighorn sheep and also the antelope ground squirrel, cactus are vital source the food and water. The cactus wren and California thrasher often develop their nests in the buckhorn cholla. These birds trim spines indigenous the cactus come permit their own less complicated access, but rely top top the balance of the spines for security from foxes, coyotes and also predatory birds. The Gila woodpeckers and gilded flickers, chop burrows in the lengthy arms of the saguaro cactus. Owls, flycatchers, and also starlings additionally use the abandoned residences in the saguaros together their abodes.

Different arrays of cactus was supplied for food and also medicinal purposes by indigenous Americans for thousands of years. The Cahuilla Indians invested the cooler months gathering want plants. They harvested the fruit of the beavertail cactus because that its sweetness. The fruit was cooked in a pit with warm stones because that at the very least 12 hours, and the large seeds were ground right into a mush. As soon as the flesh pads were young, lock were cut into tiny pieces, boiled and served together greens.

Native women used gathering sticks come harvest the buds of barrel cactus to prevent being hurt by the sharp spines. Normally these buds were parboiled several times to remove the bitter flavor before they to be eaten.


The buckhorn cholla was used medicinally through the Cahuilla. The stems to be burned, and the ashes were applied to cuts and burns to aid in the heal process.

Where To check out Cactus

Cactus are discovered throughout the desert regions and usually bloom in so late March v May. The blossoms range in shade from the deep magenta of the hedgehog cactus come the cream-colored flower of the saguaro, and from shining yellow prickly pear to the pink blooms that the beavertail cactus.

Some the the best locations in the United says for city hall cactus:


Saguaro nationwide Park organ Pipe Cactus nationwide Monument botanical Garden (Phoenix) Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Joshua Tree national Park fatality Valley nationwide Park

Texas, Southern brand-new Mexico, and Mexico


Cactus, highly adapted to the harsh desert environment, flourish in locations where various other plants cannot survive. Their survival is intimidated by "cactus rustlers" that steal this plants for the profitable landscaping trade. Part individuals damage cactus by operating vehicles off the roadway while tho others usage these old plants because that target practice.

It is illegal come disturb or remove cactus on any type of public lands. Through protecting the cactus you are helping maintain the desert"s intricate and fragile internet of life.

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Text by Jeri Zemon, State Park Ranger picture by Staff

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The prickly pear plant (also dubbed nopal or nopalitos in Spanish) and also the prickly pear cactus fruit (also well-known as tuna in Spanish) is an edible nutritious and delicious food providing vitamins, minerals and medicinal properties.

There has actually been clinical interest in the Prickly Pear plant. Some researches have shown that the pectin included in the Prickly Pear pulp lowers level of "bad" cholesterol if leaving "good" cholesterol levels unchanged. An additional study found that the fibrous pectin in the fruit may reduced diabetics" require for insulin. Both fruits and also pads that the prickly pear cactus are rich in slowly soaked up soluble fibers that assist keep blood street stable.

Prickly pear extract has additionally been presented to alleviate the severity and also occurrence that hangovers if bring away in development of drinking. Nausea, dried mouth, appetite loss, and also alcohol-related inflammation to be all decreased in test topics who ingested prickly pear extract 5 hours prior to drinking*. You have the right to make your very own tests and see if it functions for you, which is the just test that really counts. More...