Strausbaugh, Perry D. Department of Botany, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Core, Earl L. Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia.
Nobel, Park S. Department of Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
Alcorn, Stanley M. Department of Plant Pathology, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The common name for any member of the family Cactaceae, consisting of stem succulents that are mostly spiny with reduced leaves. There are more than 150 cactus genera with perhaps 1800–2000 species, nearly all indigenous to North America and South America. The cacti are among the most extremely drought-resistant plants, and consequently they thrive in very arid regions. The group is characterized by a fleshy habit, the presence of spines and bristles, and large, brightly colored, solitary flowers. There is a great variety of body shapes and patterns (Figs. 1 and 2) and many species are grown as ornamentals (Fig. 3) or oddities. A few cacti have edible fruits. The cochineal insect, which produces a valuable red dye, is cultivated chiefly on the cochineal cactus (Nopalea coccinellifera; alternatively Opuntia cochenillifera). The saguaro (Cereus giganteus; alternatively Carnegiea gigantea) [Fig. 4] of Arizona and Sonora (Northwest Mexico) is the largest of the cacti, attaining a height of 21 m (69 ft). See also: Caryophyllales; Plants, life forms of
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8500 articles and Research Reviews covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information