saguaro gatherers




pronounced: kak-TAY-see-eye

the cactus family


Cactaceae is derived from the Greek κάκτος, a name originally used for a spiny plant whose identity is not certain. All cacti are succulents, and produce flowers with many tepals that intergrade with each other, many stamens (usually hundreds), and numerous stigma lobes (rarely only 3). All but one cactus species are endemic to the New World, from southern Canada to South America. Introduced cacti have become naturalized, and often pests, in other parts of the world. Most cacti are pollinated by bees, a number of which specialize in cacti. These bees are all solitary, but in some species the females congregate in enormous numbers at nesting sites to dig their individual nest burrows close together. Cactus pollen is packed into these burrows to feed the grubs, which the parents do not tend. Some cactus species are pollinated by bats, moths or birds.


Photograph by Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons