21 Interesting Facts About Cactus

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The distinctive shape, size, and blooms of a cactus make it an excellent addition to any house. This houseplant is a unique, creative way to add interest to your living area, whether it’s sitting on your windowsill or arranged on a shelf, because no two cactus plants are the same.

Find out why these eye-catching houseplants are so much more than their prickles! The following are 21 fascinating facts about the cactus.

1. Cactus Is a Great Water Retention Plant

A cactus plant, despite its sluggish growth, is very self-sustaining because it retains moisture in its roots, leaves, and stems, and therefore controls its food consumption.

A cactus plant thrives in a bright, airy, warm atmosphere but not too hot.

In the desert, it rains seldomly as we all know. Once it does rain, it is usually light not heavy, and it might take a long time for a desert to see rain again.

The desert sun is also exceedingly hot, and precipitation evaporates quickly.

So, how does a cactus go without water for long periods? Cactus saves a lot of water when it rains in the desert to deal with the dry and scorching environment.

Cacti are said to have deep roots that allow them to absorb water from deep within the soil. This is true in most settings, but not in deserts.

Water evaporates quickly in the scorching desert heat. As a result, the soil never can absorb water and store it under the surface.

As a result, the plants’ root systems are shallow, allowing them to absorb as much water as possible. Because the roots are just 1.3 cm deep, rainfall does not take long to reach them for absorption.

The shallow roots are not only shallow, but they also traverse huge regions. The roots may absorb more water at once by covering a wider surface area.

The plant retains liters of water in its stem after absorption, giving it a bloated appearance.

The desert sand may appear dry because it drains quickly, but look at the moisture of a cactus to see if it has recently rained

• Cacti Stomata Only Open at Night

To save water, the cactus will go to great measures, including only opening its stomata at night.

Plants open their stomata during the day to act as a gas intake and exhalation point, as you may know.

Photosynthesis is the process through which plants create food and energy for their survival and development. Plants lose a lot of water during photosynthesis because they transpire.

Water loss is very high throughout the day in deserts due to the scorching heat.

Cacti have acquired a notion known as crassulacean acid metabolism, according to experts (CAM). Plants with crassulacean acid metabolism can only open their stomata at night, whenever the temperature is lower.

These plants store carbon dioxide at night and release it for food production during the day.

The temperatures are unbearably high throughout the summer, which strains the vegetation.

Cacti block their stomata both day and night during this season, resulting in a latent phase in which the plants do not develop at all.

• Cacti Have Spines Instead of Leaves

Leaves are a vital element of every plant because they allow it to generate food, which is necessary for its development and survival.

If you’ve ever been close to a cactus plant, you’ve probably wondered how it manages to live without leaves.

The absence of leaves on a cactus plant is nature’s way of assisting the plant’s survival.

There are several key reasons why a cactus plant prefers prickly protrusions over leaves. The functions of spines in a cactus plant are as follows.

2. It Serves as a Protection

Herbivores in the desert rely on a variety of desert plants for food, and the cactus is no exception.

The plant’s mushy look is certain to attract many creatures, which is where the spines come in.

Poachers are also a hazard to flora, in addition to animals. There is a profitable illicit market for cactus trading, which results in the plants being destroyed.

The cactus might become extinct if it is repeatedly destroyed.

The plant’s spines serve as a defensive mechanism. When the needles come into direct contact with the flesh, they puncture it deeply.

A puncture from a spine is excruciatingly unpleasant for any animal.

Punctured spines are particularly difficult to remove from the skin and can lead to secondary infections.

Multiple injuries can occur at the same time in certain spines.

• For Water collection

In hazy deserts, spines help gather water. When the fog settles on the spines, it transforms into water, which then cascades down to the earth below.

The water is subsequently absorbed by the plant’s roots and stored by the plant.

• For Air trapping 

Spines assist block the passage of air around a cactus plant, which can lead to water loss.

There would be too much water evaporation if the spines didn’t act as a buffer, and the plants would lose a lot of water.

• It Serves as a Shade

In most cases the climate in the desert is extremely hot, the spines of cacti can also serve as their shade against it.

The extremely hot climate can be able to dry up all of the moisture in the plants, without the shade, cacti plants cannot survive.

3. For Propagation

Propagation is necessary for the development of new plants within a species. Spines blown around by high desert winds or pierced by animals frequently end up in new places.

The spines then develop into cactus plants, ensuring that the plants live on after the elder ones die of old age.

• Cacti Has Waxy Surfaces

Plants that thrive in humid environments want surfaces that allow them to breathe easily.

These plants would rot and die if they couldn’t easily discharge moisture and gases into the atmosphere.

In deserts, on the other hand, the blazing heat and strong winds swiftly evaporate rainwater. As a result, cacti have a waxy covering on their leaves to prevent water loss.

4. Cactus May Thrive for a Long Time

Because most houseplants have such a limited lifespan, they will need to be replaced regularly. Consider purchasing a cactus plant if you’re searching for a long-lasting plant.

This plant not only requires little maintenance, but it may also outlast the bulk of plants. There are about 1500 species of this plant, as you may know. A cactus plant’s typical lifetime ranges from 10 to 200 years.

Even though the plants don’t require your constant attention, several factors may threaten their existence.

To maintain the houseplants healthy throughout the coming years, make sure you perform the following:

Water Your Plants

Regularly water your plants. Be careful that you did not overwater your plant because it may lead to root rot.

5. Provide Adequate Lighting

Put your plant in a spot that gets plenty of natural light. Sunburns and discoloration can occur if they are left on windowsills for lengthy periods.

Depending on how hot it is during the day, you may need to alternate between placing them in the sun and the shade.

Select the Appropriate Soil.

Resist soils that hold water for lengthy periods and instead choose soils that drain rapidly. Water retention is bad for the roots of the plant and can lead to rotting.

6. Temperatures

To be healthy and strong, the cactus has to be kept at the right temperature. Several kinds adapt to many habitats, but you really should avoid exposing them to high temperatures for long periods.

Temperatures around 45- and 55-degrees Fahrenheit are excellent in the winter and fall. The plants thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

7. Growing Cactus Can Take A lot of Time and Efforts

The cactus, on the other hand, does not develop blooms in a couple of weeks like some other potted plants. Patience is required to grow the cactus.

Because it lacks chlorophyll in its leaves, cactus plants develop at a slower rate than other plants. Chlorophyll is found in the leaves of most plants and aids in plant food synthesis.

The plant’s major concentration is on survival rather than reproduction due to its adaptations and focuses on saving water in difficult conditions.

If the plant had actual leaves, it would lose a lot of moisture while producing food.

Here Are the Growth Stages Of A Cactus That You May Plant From A Seedling:

Month 1 

Expect nothing currently and concentrate on watching for a seedling to emerge from the dirt. Your seedling may or may not begin to sprout little spines.

Allow enough light and ventilation for the plant. Also, when the top one or two inches of your potted plant get dry, water it.

Month 6

At this time, your plant might be the size of a marble. You shouldn’t be concerned about this. Remember that cactus has a slower growth rate than other plants, thus this is quite normal.

Year 1

By this point, you’re not likely to notice much of a difference. The cactus may be still the same size. Remember to move the plant from the tray to a bigger container, preferably a peroration-style pot.

It’s critical to move your marble-sized plant to a larger pot to stimulate development. If you don’t move your plant, it may take an eternity to grow or, worse still, perish.

After moving pots, keep the young plant out of direct sunlight for as long as possible. Begin with a few hours and work your way up in modest increments each day.

Growing Cacti

From year 1

Variations in the plant’s height will be seen here, although they will be gradual. Some plants, such as the Saguaro, can bloom after only a few years, while others, such as the Agave, might take up to 35 years to bloom.

Growing a seedling into a full-grown cactus plant takes so much time and effort, s you can see.

It’s preferable to get your cactus from a cactus plant store if you want rapid results. You may pick a plant of any age that meets your needs here.

8. Ants are Bodyguards to Cacti

The spines of the cactus are the first line of defense against animals. On the least provocation, spine, such as that of the leaping Cholla, attaches its needles deep into the offender’s flesh.

Large creatures, including people, are kept at bay by the spines of cactus plants.

Unfortunately, because smaller creatures or critters such as mealybugs are tiny enough to sneak between the cactus gaps, the needles are unable to properly remove them.

To attract ants, cactus plants generate four different kinds of nectar. It’s scorching in the desert, and the ants swarm to the cactus to relieve their thirst and hunger due to a lack of food and water.

Several plant species generate very enticing nectar from normal spines or modified spines that are dull to the touch.

Others have specific leaves from which the spines emerge, and it is through these leaves that the ant-friendly chemical is produced.

The ants attack any smaller creatures that can fit between the gaps in the spines. The ants also eat bacteria and fungus, which would otherwise discolor, infect, and destroy the plants.

9. Cactus Plants Are Not Indestructible

You are not alone if you have ever murdered a cactus. The simplest method is to overwater, have poor drainage, and use the incorrect compost.

Ordinary potting soil holds a lot of water, which is great for most plants, but not for cacti, which require excellent drainage.

It’s preferable to use specialized cactus soil instead if you want to keep them alive.

• Origin of The Word Cactus

The word cactus is derived from the Greek word Kaktos, which is often known as the “prickly plant of Sicily” in Greece.

The Greeks called the prickly plant, which they likened to an artichoke, a cactus.

However, it was later discovered that the plant they mistook for a cactus was an artichoke, and the two plants had distinct features.

In a classical meaning, the word comes from the Latin word Cardoon, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Linnaeus felt the modern-day American prickly cactus was linked to cactal and called the plant cactus in 1769.

You may probably hear that “cacti” is the plural form of the word “cactus,” and that “cactuses” is incorrect.

Cacti are preferred over cactuses in scientific investigations, studies, and print media.

Cacti, on the other hand, are commonly used in casual situations by most English speakers.

As a result, both cacti and cactuses are valid, but how you use them depends on whether you’re writing informally or just talking casually.

10. Cactus is Not Native to Desert

Cactus and desert are nearly identical terms. True, most cactus plants flourish in desert environments, however, the plant may also grow in other environments.

Cacti may thrive in the tropics and even in snow-covered elevations like the Alps. As you may know, the cactus is a highly adaptable plant that can adapt to a variety of conditions.

Mountainous Regions

The weather in the mountains is severe, and there is little rain. The cactus, on the other hand, can absorb moisture from the snow. Snow falls on the spines, liquefies, and becomes water that the plant’s roots may absorb.

Mountain cactus also has woolly spines that protect it from adverse conditions such as high winds and frost.

Mountain peaks can sometimes be scorched by the sun. The plants in these areas have a waxy covering to prevent moisture loss.

11. Tropical Weather

Moisture content is high in the tropics, such as South America.

While temperatures in the desert average 18 degrees Celsius, temperatures in the tropics vary from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius and are frequently accompanied by regular rains.

If you wish to successfully cultivate cacti in the tropics, make the following preparations:

• Plants should be grown in clay pots rather than plastic ones. Because the climate is humid, plastic containers hold water for a longer time, which is harmful to the plant.

• For nourishment, combine your soil foundation, ideally loam soil, with compost such as rotting horse dung or leaf mold.

• Use gritty sand, tiny pebbles, or perlite to allow the roots to breathe.

• Plants should not be placed in direct sunlight.

• During the summer, irrigate your plants once a week; during the other seasons, water them every two or three weeks.

• Pests such as mealybugs and scales thrive in the tropics. Instead of strong insecticides, use insecticidal soap spray, which is typically safer for your health and the health of your family.

Flowers Produce of One Areole

There is a widespread misunderstanding that all cacti cannot generate numerous blooms from a single areole. This is true for most cactus species.

After creating flowers, the areoles lose their ability to produce additional blooms. According to one study, there is an exception when it comes to some cactus species.

12. Water Straight Out of a Cactus Plant Isn’t Palatable

If you ever become stuck in the desert and don’t have any water to drink, you may relieve your thirst by removing water from a cactus.

The plant can hold liters of water; however, this water isn’t edible.

The water is not toxic, but it does contain acids and alkaloids that have a bitter flavor.

Because your kidneys must filter out the acids before releasing the water into your circulation, the water would most likely overwork and damage them.

The plant employs the strategy of having bitter water to deter animals from using it as a source of water.

Otherwise, in an arid climate where every animal needs water, the plant would become extinct.

13. Christmas Cactus and Thanks giving are Difficult to Differentiate

Most plants generate similar blooms. The Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are not suitable.

The flowers of the two plants may appear identical to the untrained eye, but an expert can readily distinguish between them.

The Schlumbergera Cactus family includes Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus. Cacti have beautiful blooms that bloom when other plants just have green foliage, which is why they’re renowned during the holidays.

From November through the beginning of the new year, these plants’ blooms are the most prominent.

Even though the two are particularly popular over the holidays, they may thrive all year.

Christmas thanksgiving cactus can be seen growing throughout different months of the year, in indoor areas where artificial light is available.

Here is the Difference Between Them

The stem segments of the Christmas cactus are flattened, whereas the stem segments of the Thanksgiving cactus are claw-like.

Christmas cactus blossoms droop off the plant, but Thanksgiving cactus blooms are more upright.

14. Cacti are All Succulents

To most people, every succulent looks like a cactus. Since some succulents firmly match the plant, this is understandable.

When individuals use the terms cactus and succulents interchangeably, it becomes even more perplexing.

And though a cactus is succulent, mixing the two words is incorrect from a scientific standpoint.

It’s critical to distinguish between the two, especially if you want to bring the plants into your house.

Knowing how to distinguish between them can aid you in making educated purchasing decisions.

Because some succulents are poisonous, making the proper pick is critical if you have pets or small children at home.

Every plant, no matter how simple or complex, need attention. As a result, knowing your plants well is beneficial since it allows you to focus your attention on a certain species.

Cacti can retain huge amounts of water in their roots, stems, and leaves, which is a trait shared by all succulents.

Because the majority of succulents contain thorns, many people mistake them for cactus.

Cacti differ from other succulents in that they have areoles, which serve as a distinguishing characteristic.

Areoles are cactus plant holes from which spines and blooms emerge.

15. Cactus Can Be Food for Animals in Their Unfertile Habitats. 

Due to their spines or thorns, we might think that this is not feasible. They may, however, do a lot more: they can reflect sunlight and protect the plant from becoming sunburned.

On the other hand, they keep the cold out on snowy nights.

On the spines, mist clouds condense, producing water that the cactus may absorb.

They get caught up in the fur of passing animals all the time. They fall out and provide room for a new cactus to grow. As a result, they contribute to the species’ proliferation.

16. Cactus Flowers Are Pollinated by Insects, Birds, and Bats

Cactus pollination is aided by insects, birds, and bats. They usually transmit pollen from one cactus to another as they drink the nectar. You may also use your hands to fertilize cactus flowers.

Owners of cactus can swab, or simply remove, the pollen-bearing stamen and put it straight into the blooms of other cacti.

17. You Can Eat Cactus

Cactus was a food source for ancient cultures in Mexico and Peru. Cactus has been found in societies as far back as 12000 years, according to researchers.

Cactus fruits were gathered by hunters and gatherers and carried back to their encampment for sustenance.

Cactus fruits have gained popularity in recent years due to their hallucinogenic properties.

The agents are good for the brain because they improve cognitive ability. As a result, some species, such as the Indian Fig, are used in herbal medicine.

18. One Can Get Intoxicated with Cactus

Most varieties of cactus were discovered to be intoxicating by Native Americans 3,000 years ago.

They nibbled plant bits, believing they were getting closer to the gods. Certainly, the most renowned is the peyote cactus which contains mescaline.

In 1888, Louis Lewin was the first to scientifically investigate these phenomena. He was able to extract a chemical called “anhalonin” from the peyote cactus.

Arthur Heffter succeeded in isolating the pure ingredient mescaline in 1896. In 1919, Ernst Späth accomplished the first complete synthesis.

With all this, he lay the groundwork for the intoxicant’s synthetic manufacture. The UN Convention has made it illegal across the globe since 1971.

In the United States, possession of mescaline is penalized by up to five years in prison.

19. You Can Make Furniture Out of Cactus

Throughout ages, parts of the cactus might turn woody. Large woody segments are formed by column cacti.

There are several advantages of using cactus wood: There are no knotholes in it, and it grew quite straight.

It is both flexible and stable due to its fiber structure, which is interlaced with cavities.

This wood has only been utilized in Latin America to build furniture thus far. Toys for birds and reptiles kept as pets can be found in this country.

20. How Long Does a Cactus Plant Live?

Cacti may survive for hundreds of years in the wild. They may live for up to ten years inside.

The problem with older ones is that every knock, scratch, or imperfection lingers with them, making them appear less attractive as they age.

Too much heat, overwatering, and not finding the right balance between darkness and light can all result in your cacti plants not flowering.

Here are a few ways of ensuring your cactus blooms when its right comes

21. Prevents Inflammation in Humans

This fruit  – the Prickly Pear – is known for its anti-inflammatory strengths. In simple terms, inflammation is the body’s response to injuries.

It is more of how the body signals the immune system to repair any damaged tissues as well as defending it against bacteria and viruses.

If the inflammation goes on for long, it could lead to advanced problems. For example, it has been linked to stroke and heart diseases.

In most cases, a healthy diet could help control inflammation.

Before you decide on taking pills due to chronic inflammation, you could consider your diet. You could incorporate the Prickly Pear in your meals.

A study by the Food & Nutrition Research for two weeks that involved 28 volunteers who underwent a controlled feeding, involving the cactus fruit, was conducted.

The study subsequently showed an increase in dermal carotenoids. The nutrients in the fruit improve your immune system and protect you from the side effects of chronic inflammation.

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin
 

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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