A cactus is any of the approximately 127 genera and 1,750 species in the order Caryophyllales that make up the family. The Latin term “cactus” comes from the Ancient Greek word “káktos,” which Theophrastus first applied to a prickly shrub whose identify is currently unknown. There is a vast variety of shapes and sizes among cacti. With the exception of Rhipsalis baccifera, which is also present in Africa and Sri Lanka, they are indigenous to the Americas, which stretch from Patagonia in the south to sections of western Canada in the north.
Because of their adaption, cacti can survive in extremely dry conditions, such as the Atacama Desert, which is among the driest places on Earth. Cacti have numerous adaptations to preserve water as a result. Cacti have numerous adaptations to preserve water as a result. For instance, nearly all cacti are succulents, which means that their fleshy, swollen sections are designed to hold onto water.
Areoles are a type of greatly shortened branch that are specialized structures that give rise to cactus spines. Cacti can be identified by their areoles. Areoles produce spines as well as flowers, which are often tubular and multipetaled. With their lengthy dormant periods and short growing seasons, many cacti are able to respond swiftly to rainfall. This is made possible by their vast yet shallow root systems, which absorb water as soon as it reaches the ground.
Because cacti are so popular, a lot of books have been written about growing them. Since cacti are cultivated in many different nations with varying climates and naturally occur in a wide range of habitats, it is usually impractical to replicate the exact conditions under which a species ordinarily thrives. Semidesert cacti and epiphytic cacti can be broadly distinguished from one another because they requiree different growing environments and are best grown apart.