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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Cactus

1749 out of 1750 species of cacti are native to only The Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north. The only exception is the Rhipsalis baccifera, which also grows in Africa and Sri Lanka. Not a single cactus grows in the Sahara.

The fruit is fleshy and often edible, as in the case of the prickly pear, which was used for a variety of purposes by the Aztecs.

The Indian fig cactus has long been an important source of food. Both the fruit and pads are eaten, the former often under the Spanish name tuna, the latter under the name nopal. The nopal industry in Mexico was said to be worth US$150 million in 2007.

The former UK Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg was given community service as a 16-year-old student in Munich after setting fire to rare cacti owned by Germany’s foremost collector in what he called a ‘drunken prank’.

If you are stranded in a desert, do not open a cactus for water—cactus pulp contains toxic alkaloids that will make a person vomit.

The saguaro cactus blossom is the official state flower of Arizona. The white flower blooms on the tips of the saguaro cactus during May and June.

The saguaro is the largest American cactus.

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