Native to deserts and dry regions of the Americas, cacti are succulents at their simplest: a water-storing body and vestigial leaves (spines). These radiate from growth points called areoles, don't photosynthesize---the green body of the plant does that---and efficiently fend off thirsty predators.
Cacti are amazing. Imagine trying to fashion an object that retains moisture despite arid conditions, withstands temperatures upwards of 100 degrees F and below freezing, and doesn't disintegrate under ultraviolet rays. What would it be made of? Glass, plastic, metal or wood? None have a chance. Now, consider that this desert object also grows and reproduces!
True, cacti can be difficult to garden around. But anyone can grow and enjoy small specimens in pots. All you need are the right tools when it comes time to transplant them. As for beauty, this may surprise you, but I'd rather photograph cacti than any other plants. Flowers are big and bright; shapes are intriguing. Spines form patterns and glow when backlit.
Because "cactus" deserves a gentler name, I've come up with "halo plants." That's yet to catch on, but cacti themselves certainly have. You too may find that an appreciation for these succulents' simple, sleek, sculptural forms is a natural progression. Is it any wonder that cactus collectors number in the millions worldwide?
Use my photos of cacti to...
- Help you learn their names.
- Create a private Pinterest page of plants to collect.
- Serve as your computer screen's wallpaper.
- Make a custom greeting card or other work of art.
- Help you ID what you already have.
I've identified and labeled photos for you according to genus and species, and common names if available. If you think I've ID'd any incorrectly, I definitely want to know. Please email me. — Debra Lee Baldwin
Create a Cactus Curio Box (3:54)
Why Grow Paddle Cacti? DLB's 16 Reasons. Of the dozen or so types of cacti in my garden, I have more opuntias than any other.
How Cactus Snowflakes Seduced Me. Remarkably, the spination of certain cacti suggests snowflakes...
Why Cactus is Popular. Long a pariah plant, cactus is gaining popularity.
Buy and Shop for Succulents Online. (Scroll down to the "assorted cacti tray.")
I Come Out as a Cactus Lover. Are you a closeted cactus fancier? Time to be proud!
The Joys of Cholla (Cylindropuntia) "Could there be a more unfriendly plant?" I asked. You'd think I'd insulted the entire state of Arizona...