How a Cactus Survives in the Desert

A cactus is one of the most unique plants. The cactus differs from other plants in such a way that it can survive in the warmest of regions without needing too much water. Cacti are most well known as the prickly desert plants that we see in western movies. They are always part of the desert scene, together with the sun and the cowboy. It is amazing how the cactus can survive in the desert with very little amount of water.

Here are some facts on how a cactus survives in the desert:

  1. Cactus Root System. The cactus root system contributes on how the cactus can survive in the desert with minimal water. The roots of a cactus are spread out underground for up to several feet away from where the cactus is planted. The roots are where the water comes from. During rainfall, the cactus gets all the water it needs because of the widespread root system, which covers a large land area. Also, the roots of the cactus can sprout smaller roots when rain comes. After the rain, these smaller roots die or are cut of from the main root system to avoid more roots needing the water that was collected.
  2. Cactus Stem. The cactus stem is another part of the cactus that helps in getting nutrients for the plant and storing all the water that it can. The water is stored inside the stem of the cactus and is protected by the thick outer casing of the cactus. In other plants, the leaves do this. Since the cactus has no leaves, the stem acts as the one that gets the needed nutrients for the cactus. The cactus also relies on how it grows to get water when it rains. Unlike other plants, the cactus grows vertically from the ground. When rain falls, the water drips to the stem of the cactus and straight down to its roots. This is how cacti get the water. The stem of the cactus also contains an element that prevents the water inside the cactus from evaporating.
  3. Prickly Needles. The prickly needles of the cactus are there for a very good purpose. The needles are also very helpful in getting more water for the cactus. These needles act as the cactus’ security. It prevents desert animals from getting near the cactus and getting the water that is stored in the stem. Some cactus needles are also there to shade some parts of the plant from the heat of the sun. This results in the cooler temperature of the cactus and therefore less water is needed.

These are the main parts of a cactus that aid in keeping it alive in the desert heat without having a regular supply of water. Cacti are like the counterpart of a camel in plants. Both of them are able to store enough water for survival and both can dwell in the heat of the sun. Cacti only rely on rainfall to get water. Rainfall seldom happens in the desert that is why cacti have to store all the water they can get during rainfall.


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