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Blog Posted in avatar   Igor I. Solar's Blog

Cactus flowers

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By Igor I. Solar
Posted Sep 21, 2011 in Science
Succulent plants are endemic to the American continent and islands of the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean. In tropical Africa there is naturally only one species of cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera) that is supposed to have arrived there several hundred years ago carried as seeds in the digestive tracts of migratory birds or possibly attached to trees or plants carried by ocean currents. This rarity has also extended its range to Sri Lanka, India and Nepal.
The cactus plants are relatively old species. They would have evolved between 30 and 40 million years ago. Existing cactus species currently found in Europe and other regions of Asia have been transported by man and cultivated or introduced in environments similar as their natural habitat in the Americas.
The cacti typically show thick stems that allow them to store water and are capable of
Cactus of genus Copiapoa  from a beach on the coast of the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Cactus of genus Copiapoa, from a beach on the coast of the Atacama Desert in Chile.
photosynthesis. The clearest characteristic of the family Cactaceae is the areola, a specialized structure from which the spines (modified leaves), new stems and flowers emerge. The flowers are usually very colourful in order to attract insects and promote pollination. Although very attractive, cactus flowers are unfortunately also very ephemeral. Flowering cacti are a very popular collection item for gardeners in warm and temperate regions.
In the process of practicing the creation of short videos, I decided to put together a video of pictures of some of the succulent plants flowering in my collection and others I have photographed during trips to the desert. The video that accompanies this blog is the result.

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