This plant family is probably the most well associated with prickly thorns and spines. Many homeowners select cacti for home security purposes due to this attribute Cacti are primarily desertic plants and also represent a popular landscaping choice for aesthetic and conservation reasons. Individual species of cacti number over 2,000. The large variety of species offers homeowners many different options for landscaping and security buffering.
Cacti resemble another spine-bearing plant family known as euphorbia and people often confuse the two families. The chief difference is that cacti sprout shoots, flowers and spines from pores known as areoles. Most species are indigenous to the Western Hemisphere and although most people know the family as a desert plant, other varieties grow in grasslands and even in jungles. One distinguishing aspect of cacti is its trait of photosynthesizing solely in its stem and in no other part of the plant. Like other succulents, their stems retain a high level of moisture content which enables them to withstand long periods of drought.
Cacti sprout thorns or spines that minimally cause discomfort for most would-be intruders and may cause injury. Combined with other species of varying heights and widths, as well as with sensors, lighting, and alarms they often represent an effective security measure.
As so many species of cacti exist, they also exhibit much variety in shape and form. Cacti range in maximum height from less than an inch to as sixty feet. Some varieties also spread outward and may reach as much as ten feet in width. They also vary in shape. One of the most familiar images of cacti is the tall and slender Saguaro however, many people also know the short and stumpy Windowsill. Others include the pad-like Beavertail, the the star-shaped Fishhook Barrel, and the tubular Old Man variety.
The most prominent feature of cacti are the thorns and spines. Unlike most plants few species of cacti grow leaves and if they do, they almost always shrivel and fall quickly. The thorns and spines provide defense against predatory animals and also slow the rate of evaportranspiration. Most species of cacti also grow flowers and some are highly prized for their beauty. The flowers are often vividly colored with lavender, purple, flame orange, and yellow among others. Many flowers also grow multiple petals and sepals presenting an intricate image. The flowers range in size from a few inches to as much as twenty-four inches.
Some species grow fruit and many varieties are edible. These fruit also range in size from a few to several inches across or long. Groceries commonly stock cactus pear in produce sections.
As a plant that grows primarily in arid climates, cacti tolerate drought extremely well and are able to withstand neglect; however they do not tolerate overwatering. They are well adapted to dry, poorly nourished soil. Cacti typically live long, even as much as hundreds of years however, they grow very slowly as little as two inches a year. One of the primary difficulties with cacti is their attraction to several types of insect pests including aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale.
Many native American cuisines utilize cacti as a vegetable in various ways. The sap of many varieties also has medicinal qualities and some even have narcotic effects. In general, the thorns and spines of cacti provide an effective security measure as a deterrent to would-be intruders. These plants also offer may aesthetic qualities which many homeowners find attractive and their tolerance for drought makes them a favorite landscaping option where lack of water prevails as an issue.