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Cactus

A cactus is a plant that grows where the soil is dry and rocky—most usually in the desert.

A cactus doesn’t have leaves like other plants do.

A cactus has spines or thorns.

The plural word for cactus is cacti.

Overall, there are about 2,000 different types of cactuses found in the world.

Some are thin and very, very tall, and others are short and round like a ball…a very spikey ball.

There are even cacti that look like bushes and some that look like ping pong paddles.

Cactus Facts for Kids

  • There are about 2000 types of cacti
  • Cactus are xerophytes, specializing in hot, dry climates.
  • Cactus lifespan is somewhere in the ranges from 10 to 200 years
  • Many cacti live in dry places, such as deserts
  • A cactus plant can be very small or very big
  • The saguaro cactus is the largest cactus in the United States
  • The tallest saguaro cactus ever was over 78 feet tall
  • You will find lots of cacti in Arizona and California.
  • The spikes on the outside can be very sharp.
  • Some spikes can be even poisonous to humans.
  • Some cacti are edible especially from the 200+ Opuntia species
  • They are very good at conserving water, especially during long dry periods.
  • The outside of a cactus is a waxy skin texture which helps it hold in water.
  • Cactus flowers can be yellow, red, pink, white, orange, or blue.
  • Some cactus can be eaten and some grow fruit.
  • The vast majority of cacti have no visible leaves.
  • Scientists have discovered fossils of cacti dating back 25 million years.
  • The cactus can also be used for fodder for animals once the spines have been removed.
  • In some countries like India they will use to cut this in herbal medicine.
  • Some cactus have been found in rainforests and even in countries like Canada.
Prickly Cactus

Is a Cactus a succulent?

A cactus is a succulent.

A succulent is a plant that has spongy roots and leaves.

They have spongy roots and leaves so they can hold the water they get and save it for later.

They have to be able to do this because most cacti live in hot, dry areas that don’t get much rain.

The taproot (main root) on a cactus is longer and stronger than the taproot of most plants.

This lets a cactus find and drink water that is deep down in the ground.

The taproot soaks up the water and holds on to it; sending little drinks at a time to the rest of the plant.

Cactus also has lots and lots of small roots that run close to the surface of the ground.

This lets the roots soak up any rain that falls quickly.

Do cacti flowers?

Most cacti produce flowers.

The flowers a cactus produces can be as small as a dime or as large as a dinner plate.

Cactus flowers are also very colorful; bright yellow and pink, deep red and orange.

Some even have white flowers or striped flowers.

Some cactus flowers last for a few days or even weeks like other flowers do.

But some cactus flowers only last for a few hours.

The spines or thorns on many cacti are poisonous.

Getting poked by them can make you feel dizzy, cause you to lose feeling where you were poked, or even make you sick.

Can you eat Cacti?

Many kinds of cacti are edible.

This means you can eat them.

The juice and pads of the prickly pear (minus the spines, of course) is a favorite food for people living in Mexico and other countries in Central and South America.

The juice and pads of prickly pear are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins.

They fill you up without making you gain weight.

The juice is full of vitamin C—just like oranges.

Figs Fruit

Are cacti easy to grow?

Cacti are easy to grow and take care of because they need so little water.

They love the sun, but if you live somewhere where it gets cold in the winter, you can bring them into your house and they will be fine until it gets warm enough for them to go back outside.

Cacti can live for many, many years, though, so be sure you are willing to take care of them for a long, long time.