Cactus is a spiky plant that grows in deserts, , one of the most known and shared facts about this magnificent plant. However, there are many amazing facts about these plants that can fascinate young minds. And if you wish to know some interesting and fun cactus information for kids, then reading this post may provide valuable insight!
What Is a Cactus Plant?
Cactus is a type of plant that is mainly found in hot and dry areas or climates. Cacti plants are a variety of succulents, which means that these kinds of plants store water in their roots, stems, and leaves. Cactus can survive even if they are not watered or even if it does not rain for a long time because they have water stored inside them, helping them grow and thrive. Unlike other plants, cacti do not have very deep roots, and instead, their roots are spread very close to the surface of the soil. This helps the roots to absorb water from a wider area of land whenever it rains. Most cactus do not have leaves, and the varieties of cacti that have leaves are very tiny and usually fall off as the plant starts growing.
Uses of Cactus Plant
Cacti of varied kinds are widely popular and even cultivated as ornamental or house plants. Some cacti varieties, such as prickly pears and chollas, bear fruits that are good to consume, and these fruits are not only yummy but also rich in vitamins, fiber, and even low in calories. These prickly plants are also used as living hedges, and in some parts of the world, cacti wood is also used as a source of fuel. The pointy and prickly thorns of some cacti species are also used for making hooks, needles, and combs. Another usage and interesting desert cactus fact is that many cacti species have medicinal properties and are used to prepare medicines.
How Does A Cactus Look Like?
Cactus comes in many varieties, sizes, and shapes. Though most cacti are green in color, however, some cacti variants can be brownish-green or even bluish colors. The sizes of cacti can vary greatly, and they can be very small to very big, where some are round, and short others can be thin and tall in appearance. Most kinds of cacti have thick skin and sharp thorns on the surface. These sharp thorns help the cactus plant to survive by not only protecting it from the birds and animals but also preventing water from evaporating from its leaves and stem.
Where Does Cactus Plant Grow?
An exciting cactus habitat information is that cactus thrives only in dry and hot climates, and thus they are mostly found in deserts. However, there are some varieties of cactus that are found in rainforests too.
Other Interesting Information & Facts About Cactus for Children
Here are some more fun facts about cactus for kids:
- In place of leaves, cactus have spines. These spines can be hard or soft, curved or straight, scattered or arranged in rows. The length of these spines can be 6 inches long.
- Cactus stems store water, and though the water found in a cactus has a comparatively higher density than normal tap water, it is potable or absolutely safe for human consumption.
- The word ‘Cactus’ is used to denote a single plant; however, ‘Cacti’ or ‘Cactuses’ is used to denote more than one cactus plant or is the plural of the word ‘cactus’.
- Some cacti varieties are used in various culinary preparations and can be eaten in boiled or fried forms or can be made into soups or salads. There are some varieties of cacti that also grow edible fruits.
- Though cacti are mostly found in dry climates, some cacti species are also found in rainforests or cold countries like Canada.
- A cactus plant can survive up to 15 years. However, some varieties of cactus can survive as long as up to 300 years.
- Some of the cactus plant’s important pollinators include hummingbirds, bees, bats, moths, etc.
- Some cactus plants bear beautiful flowers in different colors. These flowers can be red, orange, white, blue, pink, or in other colors depending on pollination.
- Cacti were taken to Europe in the 1800s, and since then, cacti have been cultivated as ornamental plants, and some rare cacti species are even sold at a very high cost.
- There are a few varieties of cacti that contain a substance called mescaline. Mescaline is a substance that produces hallucinogenic effects after consumption.
- Cacti can have periods of intense blossoming and growth and then have absolute dormant periods. The growth and blossoming periods require ample sunlight and water and are fairly shorter than the dormant periods.
- The roots of a cactus plant are just a few inches below the ground. However, it can spread approximately 7 feet in diameter. This kind of root structure helps the cactus plant to absorb and store more water.
- Cacti are primarily found in deserts, and thus, the plant stores ample water in its roots and stem to thrive when there is a shortage of water. Apart from storing water, the stem of the cactus plants also helps in the process of photosynthesis.
- In some parts of the world, such as India, some cactus plants’ variants are used for medicinal purposes or for making herbal medicines.
- There are more than 1600 to 1800 varieties of cacti available. Most species are majorly found in dry areas of the United States Of America, Central America, South America, Mexico, and even in some parts of Asia. Amongst all these areas, Mexico has the maximum number of cacti varieties.
- One of the unusual facts about cacti is that they are found in various sizes, ranging from 1 cm to 20 m in height. Pachycereus pringlei, or elephant cactus, is the largest cactus plant. This cactus’s usual height is 20 feet; however, it can also grow up to 60 feet in height. Blossfeldia liliputiana is the smallest species of cactus.
- There is no substantial theory that supports when did cactus actually started growing on our planet. However, according to some evidence, cacti may have evolved somewhere between 5 million to 145 million years ago.
- Every spike or thorn on the cactus develops from a nipple-like structure present on the cactus plant’s surface.
- Many species of cacti can also have tree-like structures or are arborescent, starfish-shaped, rounded, cylinder, or even irregular in shapes. The surface of the cactus can either be just flat or covered with ridges.
- Many desert animals such as ground squirrel, antelope, bighorn sheep, etc., love to eat cactus. Some birds, such as California Thrasher and Cactus Wren, build their nests in cactus plants. This is possible because birds use their beaks to trim the cactus’ spines, and thus easy access to the plant is obtained.
Kids are very inquisitive and like to know about their surroundings and environment, and plants form an integral part of it. Amongst many interesting types of plants, cactus is one plant that can ignite a child’s curiosity, and if your kiddo is someone who wishes to know some interesting facts about cactus, this post can help you a great deal.