A nice potted clump
of Copiapoa hazeltoniana
at B&B Cactus Farm, Tucson.
Cacti (family Cactaceae) are succulent flowering plants native only to the Americas. There is only one exception, a species of Rhipsalis which is thought to have migrated to Africa and other locations with the help of migratory birds. The Taxonomy of the Cactaceae family is highly contested, estimates of the number of Genera vary from 50 to 150 and species up to 2000.
Cacti are usually considered desert plants, but in truth they can be found in various other environments from high mountain slopes to tropical forests. They seem to have filled every niche where rain is either infrequent or the soil they grow in dries very quickly. Cacti come in many shapes sizes and colors. Some are round to short cylindrical plants, others are thin stemmed and trailing, still others are solitary or branching columns. Some have fierce spines and others are nearly spineless. Size ranges from small globes less than one inch across to towering tree like forms fifty feet or more in height. Colors range from green, blue or brown to red and even maroon and yellow in variegated forms. The color often changes with the intensity of sunlight.
Cacti flowers are some of the prettiest and most colorful in the plant world. They range from tiny 1/4 inch wide blooms to large trumpet shaped flowers 8 inches long and wide. Colors range through white, yellow, red, pink or magenta and any combinations of these. Some flower petals are solid in color, some may be bicolored and some are even striped. Some Cacti have flowers that are open during the day and others are nocturnal. The nocturnal varieties exploiting pollinators such as nocturnal moths and bats.
Because of their infinite variety and beauty, cacti are popular cultivated plants, second only to Roses and Orchids.
Click a Genus name or thumbnail below to go to a page about that Genus
and links to pages about my plants within that Genus.