Thursday, 6 July 2006



Shot in Trinity College somewhere behind Wynne Cottage. Trying to kill time, I zoom on this beautiful cactus. It was then I realised that it has spider webs on it. But who says that beautiful cannot be dirty?

Cacti are almost exclusively New World plants. This means that they are native only in North America, South America, and the West Indies. There is however one exception, Rhipsalis baccifera; this species has a pantropical distribution, occurring in the Old World in tropical Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka as well as in tropical America.

Like other succulents, cacti are well-adapted to life with little precipitation. The leaves have evolved into spines, which in addition to allowing less water to evaporate through transpiration than regular leaves, defend the cactus against water-seeking animals. Photosynthesis is carried out by enlarged stems, which also store water.

The word cactus is ultimately derived from Greek Κακτος kaktos, used in classical Greek for a species of spiny thistle, possibly the cardoon, and used as a generic name, Cactus, by Linnaeus in 1753 (now rejected in favor of Mammillaria). There is some dispute as to the proper plural form of the word; as a Greek loan into English, the correct plural in English would be "cactuses". However, as a word in Botanical Latin (as distinct from Classical Latin) "cactus" would follow standard Latin rules for pluralization and become "cacti", which has become the prevalent usage in English.


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