The quest for sustainable leather alternatives

Throughout history, leather has been a popular material for clothes and many other goods. However, the tanning process and use of livestock mean that it has a large environmental footprint, leading consumers and manufacturers ...

Scientists study puncture performance of cactus spines

Beware the jumping cholla, Cylindropuntia fulgida. This shrubby, branching cactus will—if provoked by touching—anchor its splayed spines in the flesh of the offender. The barbed spines grip so tightly that a segment of ...

Cactus roots inspire creation of water-retaining material

During rare desert rainfalls, cacti waste no time sopping up and storing a storm's precious precipitation. Inspired by this natural phenomenon, scientists report in a study appearing ACS Macro Letters that they have developed ...

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Cactus

A cactus (plural: cacti, cactuses or cactus) is a member of the plant family Cactaceae. Their distinctive appearance is a result of adaptations to conserve water in dry and/or hot environments. In most species, the stem has evolved to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have evolved into spines. Many species are used for ornamental plants, and some are also grown for fodder, forage, fruits, cochineal, and other uses.

Cacti come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The tallest is Pachycereus pringlei, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 m, and the smallest is Blossfeldia liliputiana, only about 1 cm in diameter at maturity. Cactus flowers are large, and like the spines arise from distinctive features called areoles.

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