What’s a cactus?

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What’s a cactus?

The word “cactus” derives from the Ancient Greek word “kaktos”. Cacti come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. As most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought, these plants are adapted to survive with little or no water over a long period of time. All cacti are succulents and their stems are the only part of the plant that have adapted to store water. They have spines instead of leaves and these spines not only protect cacti from animals and birds, but they also keep the plant’s stored water from escaping.

Cactus spines are produced from specialized structures called areoles, kind of highly reduced branch. Areoles are an identifying feature of cacti. As well as spines, areoles give rise to flowers. A cactus in bloom is such a delight to witness.