What Is The Purpose of Thorns on The Cactus Plant?

What is the Purpose of Thorns on a Cactus Plant?

Cacti are beautiful plants. I mean that’s why you have a few of them around, right? We’re guilty of it for sure…

But with this good look, comes the grueling task of having to deal with the thorns, or rather spines as they’re usually referred to in botanical circles. Yes, they may add to the beauty of these plants (with a variety of colors and sizes). But what if they were a bit, say, tender?

Well, if the spines existed for the sole purpose of sitting around your home just maybe that would have been possible. But we all know where they were really meant to be – out there in mostly dry environments braving the harshest of conditions.

And these spines play a huge role in this coping. They’re an adaptation that has ensured the survival of cacti out there in places where a majority of floral is non-existent.

These thorns range from the long and blatantly don’t-mess-with-us types to the small, fine and yet vicious glochids. Despite this, their functions are more or less the same.

Purpose of Thorns on Cactus Plant

Let’s get to it!

Shade by day insulation by night

A thing with desert temperatures is that they’re always swinging to the extremes – day and night.

During the day, temperatures are sky high with the shining sun. As the day wears off and the sun disappears in the opposite direction, a downward spiral in readings kicks in resulting in very cold nights.

Now, these aren’t very nice fluctuations for any living thing out there. And that’s where thorns save the day for cacti.

Their numerous number on some species adds up to form a considerable amount of cover for the plant. So, during the day, the cactus plant is safe from the scalding hot sun (and the accompanying high temperatures). During the night when temperatures are bottom low, the cactus plant is kept warm by a thin layer of air – attributable to the thorns.

Protection from predators

A known fact: there is very little vegetation in the desert. But you know what?

Still, there is a considerable number of herbivores that need food in the same desert. They need vegetation to keep going. And water, of course.

Cacti would have been great sources for both of the above. Only that they would have been extinct by now, maybe. Most of these animals wouldn’t dare touch the cacti. So, definitely they have their thorns to thank for that.

Well, it’s true that some desert animals still have a way around the spines and do manage to get a bite (pack rats, bighorn sheep, desert tortoise etc). But it’s also true that the sharp thorns have kept away lots of others from munching the cactuses out of existence. I mean seriously, would you ever want to munch on something like a cactus, talk about very painful dental visit.

Diffusing Light

Cacti are light-loving by nature. Each part has to get plenty of it for the plants to grow accordingly.

But sometimes this is not possible largely due to the style of growth of some. For instance, shrubby ones. Light is going to reach just a few stems. Well, that’s if the cactus plant was just a smooth-stemmed structure. But bless the thorns –they split up light, evenly distributing it around the whole plant.

Water traps

In fog-prevalent deserts, thorns are quite instrumental in quenching the plant. They trap enough of this fog to turn it into water droplets that later find their way down around the base of the plant.

With the shallow root system common in cacti, the water is quickly absorbed by the plant. And the cacti live on.

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Air traps

As mentioned above, thorns trap air around cacti that is pivotal in the survival of the plant two major ways. Insulation is one. The other is water preservation.

The thin film of air reduces the rate of evaporation of water from the plant. As a result, very little of this water is lost to the atmosphere. In a desert setting, this is a huge deal.

Propagation

Certainly not all. Especially not the large ones.

Glochids are the ones that serve this purpose perfectly in some cacti plants like Cholla.

The glochids are tiny, numerous and get easily (and firmly) attached to a passing body due to their barbed shafts. That way, segments of the plant are carried from the parent to some other place where they form new plants upon being dropped.


Wrapping Things Up

That’s how these thorns have helped cacti survive in the wild. The thorns could be pointless now, you know, with all the care these plants get as houseplants. But their prickly parts are not going away anytime soon.

Who knows, maybe they will as they spend more time in pots. But, that will definitely take a lot of years.

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

What Adaptations Does a Cactus Plant Have?

What Adaptations does a Cactus Have

Out there in the wild, cacti plants have braced the desert conditions for many years. But I’m sure you know that, right? If not, don’t worry, you will today!

Extreme temperatures. Little rainfall. Odd climate patterns.

Cacti plants know best how to maneuver around them. They relish in them. If it’s any plant that is capable of adapting to their environment, the cactus plant is just that.

So, how are they able to do this? How have they been able to put in places known to be a death sentence for most plants? What makes cactus plants different?

Obviously they’ve been able to develop specialized features but what are they?

They’re not like the average plant growing in places where water is an everyday thing. They’ve adapted to especially take advantage of the little rainfall in their natural habitat.

Continue reading about these adaptations below and let us know what you think, some of them you might already know but there’s others than are quite cool!

cactus adaptations
stand tall @suculentasdomat

Leaves are Reduced to Spines on a Cactus

Spines are one of the most notable features in cactuses.

Instead of having leaves, the stems are covered in a number of these prickly structures. You know, the spiky little fellas that they have, ouch! They guard against desert herbivores but that’s not important for now. (Maybe a future article, let us know!)

Here’s how cacti plants are adapted to saving water by having spines. It’s quite interesting…

  • The white spines are made up of dead cells at a mature age. This means they don’t take up water as it would have been the case if they were alive. Just one less part for the plant to worry about right?
  • They trap air around the plant. This air provides a thin cover over the plant preventing water loss by evaporation and transpiration.
  • The spines, with their numerous number, add up to provide a considerable amount of shade for the plant. Such an adaptation lowers the temperature of the cactus surface which further reduces water loss.
  • In instances of fog/mist, the spines condense it into water droplets that fall off to the base of the plant where they are absorbed immediately – courtesy of the nature of the roots as you’ll see below.

To ensure you know how to properly handle the thorns on a cactus, check out this article here.

cactus adaptations
mammillaria hidalgensis @toms_cacti_collection

Cactus have a Highly Specialized Root System

Cacti roots differ from those of other plants in a number of ways and these are in themselves adaptations to better survive the desert terrain.

  • They’re shallow and widespread to take advantage of any light rains in the desert. That means they can absorb quite an amount of water within the shortest time.
  • They can grow new tiny roots very fast when it rains. These contribute to the more rapid absorption of water. The roots also dry up quickly so they don’t turn out to be another burden for the plant.
  • The root cells have a very high concentration of salts. An essential adaptation that translates to a higher water absorption rate.

In some specific cacti species, the roots are also used as water storage organs. In this case, the species will have a taproot larger than itself for this sole purpose.

cactus adaptations
cacti collection @aiverpatsiv

The Stem of a Cactus is Well-Equipped to Store Water

For a majority of cacti species, the stems are the main water storage organs. And, the species have particular adaptations, not just to store but also to retain the water. Have a look at them:

Stem Shapes

Cacti species have varied shapes that contribute immensely to water storage and retention capabilities. Cylindrical and spherical shapes are adapted to bring about a low surface area to volume ratio which reduces water loss to the atmosphere. These shapes also reduce the heating effects of the sun.

In other words, cactus plants have lower than average evaporation rates.

cactus adaptations
hang on tight @maddymadepottery

Shrinking

Particular cacti have specific features on their stems. For instance, the ribs and flutes on a species, like the rounded ball cactus stem, enable it to easily shrink during the prolonged desert droughts and expand when it rains.

Shrinking is an adaptation that ensures there is just a small surface area hence reducing water loss.

Expanding gives the stem enough room to take up as much water as possible.

cactus adaptations
two cacti @firplants

Wax on Cacti

The stems and spines of any cactus plant have a layer of thick wax. The functionality behind this is so that cacti can stop any water loss as much as possible.

With the thick layer of wax mixed with the ability to shrink and expand, the wax serves as a multifunctional purpose. It helps the cacti retain as much water in as possible without allowing the sun, or the idea of evaporation, to affect cacti as much as it would with your average plant.

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cactus adaptations
potted cactus @cactus_santaana

Short Growing Seasons and Long Periods of Dormancy

Cacti grow only during the short rainy seasons and stay dormant for the long dry months of the desert.

This adaptation ensures water efficiency as the stored water is only used in very vital processes such as photosynthesis. The development of new cells and tissues (water-intensive) is confined to periods of rain when water is aplenty.

cactus garden @theprettylifeless

Night Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis occurs in the leaves during the day for most plant species. But not for a good deal for cacti.

This vital process is carried out in the stems (as the cacti are devoid of leaves) at night. Such an adaptation ensures the plant loses very little water as its stomata are only open at this time when temperatures are at the minimum.

Water is a valuable commodity to lots of organisms but its value increases probably hundreds of times in a desert setting. Every drop counts. Cacti get this all very well. So they try to keep as much of it as it’s possible through an array of adaptations.

And that’s how they’ve been able to thrive in the deserts for years.

cactus adaptations
mini wheel barrow @oberryssucculents

Thanks for reading! Join our Succulents City community of 335k and growing on our Instagram! Oh yeah, we almost forgot, we’ve teamed up with Audbile.com so that you can receive 2 FREE audiobooks when you sign up even for just a free trial. Check out the link for more information!

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulents lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Happy planting!

How to Make a Succulent Corsage

How to make succulent corsage

Ah, corsages. Just thinking about them brings us right back to our high school prom! (Anyone have an embarrassing story they want to share?) But that’s not the only thing they’re good for. Mothers of the bride and groom often wear them at weddings, and they’re a nice touch if you’re going to a fancy event like a gala.

And they’re pretty!

But let’s face it… those traditional rose and baby’s breath corsages are kind of outdated. Florists put baby’s breath in pretty much every arrangement in the 1990s, so any corsage with baby’s breath in it screams vintage, and not in the cool way!

Corsages are easily updated by putting trendy flowers and plants in them, though. And what’s trendier than succulents?

If you want to learn how to make a succulent corsage that will be the envy of all your friends, then keep on reading!

How to Make a Succulent Corsage
@theseatedsucculent

Materials You Need for a Succulent Corsage

To make a succulent corsage, you’ll need:

  • a corsage bracelet
  • plus satin ribbon
  • floral wire to make a bow
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Last update on 2021-12-06 / Amazon

If you’re not the craftiest person, like us, we found these large and small readymade pull bows— a great alternative instead of making our own. All you have to do is pull some strings and the bow will form itself! They come in all different sizes and colors, so you’ll be able to find one that fits your wrist and matches your dress.

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You’ll also need your favorite succulents, air plants or flowers to put on the corsage. We like to take one succulent cutting that’s bigger than all the others and make it the focal point of the corsage. Echeverias and Hens and Chicks are great for this because they have beautiful, colorful rosettes that look a lot like flowers!

For the smaller cuttings, we like to use Jade or Jelly Bean succulents because they have interesting leaf shapes and textures. Small flowers like Forget-Me-Nots also look great alongside succulent cuttings!

To secure all of these cuttings to the bracelet, you’ll need floral glue. You’ll also need some sharp scissors for this project.

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12/07/2021 12:10 am GMT

How to Make a Succulent Corsage
@besserina

Methodology Behind Making a Succulent Corsage

Before you begin, grab your corsage bracelet and lay it on a flat surface. If you’re making your own bow, get out the satin ribbon, floral wire, and your pair of scissors.

Making the Bow

To make the bow, cut a long string of ribbon off of the spool. You’ll form the bow by looping and twisting the ribbon, just like the woman does in the below video. Once you’ve formed the ribbon, you’ll secure it with some of the floral wire.

If you’re using a pull bow, get it ready by pulling the strings. If you need a little help, here’s a great video tutorial!

Next, you’re going to want to secure the bow to the corsage bracelet. Put a dab of floral glue in the center of the floral bracelet and on the bow you just made. Wait a couple of seconds for the glue to get tacky and then secure the bow to the bracelet.

Now grab your scissors and cut the loop in the center of the bow. This is where your main succulent or flower will go.

Attaching Your Succulents

How to Make a Succulent Corsage
@sugarssuccs

Grab the plant or flower cutting you’re using and put a dab of floral glue on the back. Put a little glue on the bow too to ensure that it sticks. Wait for the glue to get a little tacky and place the cutting on the bow, applying a little pressure to make sure it sticks.

Now you’ll want to take some small cuttings from your plants and attach them to the bow. Apply glue and tuck them in wherever you think they’ll look good. There’s no right or wrong way to place your plants!

If you want to get a little fancy, you can also add rhinestones or pearls to your corsage. You can attach them with a dab of floral glue. They’ll add a little extra glamour and elegance to your succulent corsage!

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You’re all done! Now all that’s left to do is leave the corsage out to dry for a little while. After it’s done drying, stick it in the fridgeit’ll stay fresh in there for about a week.

When you’re ready to wear it, adjust the succulent corsage bracelet to fit your wrist and show it off to all your friends!

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How to Make a Succulent Corsage
@besserina

Now that you know how to make a succulent corsage, are you going to try it? Let us know in the comments section below and post your creation to ur exclusive succulent- loving Facebook group!

For some inspiration, check out our Pinterest to help find the perfect succulents for your corsage. If you’ve made one already, please let us know too! We’d love to see them. Before you go, if you want a FREE 30 day trial to Amazon Prime, feel free to sign up here. Our team member just notified the entire team not too long ago that we partnered with Amazon for this!

Calling all succulents lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

Happy crafting & happy planting! ?