Cactus DNA: What Does It Tell US?

(Photograph  = DNA strand) Introduction All the cactus species are related, just like all the great ape species (chimpanzee, gorilla, gibbon, human) are related. But, there are differences…

Crassula columnaris, Martin Heigen


(Photograph = Crassula columnaris, Martin Heigen) Introduction Crassula species are typically succulent and come from arid areas. Their leaf shapes, arrangements, and colors are often unusual. Many grow easily…

Crassula multiclava, Jacinta Iluch Valero

Crassula Flowers

(Photograph = Crassula multiclava, 4-merous flowers, Jacinta Iluch Valero) Introduction 4-merous (pronounced four‘ mer us) flowers have 4 petals, 4 sepals, and 4 stamens. Likewise 5-merous flowers have 5…

The different colors of desert lichens

Lichens in the Desert

(Photograph = Three different species of desert lichens on rock) Introduction Lichens are made from two different organisms, a fungus and algae. The two organisms play different roles. The fungus…

Opuntia orbiculata, Aguirre Springs, NM

Opuntia Spines Vary Within a Species: A Case Study in Opuntia orbiculata

(Photograph = Opuntia orbiculata, New Mexico) Introduction It is difficult to tell many Opuntia species apart. There are multiple aspects to consider, what is the shape of the pads, where…

Chuckwalla, Craig Howe

Some Mojave Desert Animals

(Photograph = Chuckwalla lizard, Craig Howe) Introduction Deserts are harsh places to live. The Mojave Desert with 4-8 inches of rain is one of the toughest. But creatures…

Opuntia cacanapa

Shameless Promotion of New Web Site

(Photogragh = Opuntia cacanapa with fingerprint) Introduction David Griffiths (1867-1935) was a botanist employed by Bureau of Plant Industry (USDA) in the early 20th Century. An expert on cacti, he described…

Rhipsalis aurea, Andreas Hofacker

Cactus Explorer Magazine

(Photograph = Rhipsalis Aurea, Cactus Explorer No. 14) Introduction Graham Charles writes, “The Cactus Explorer No.14 is ready to download free .” What is the Cactus Explorer? The…

Aloe challisii

Grass Aloes

(Photograph = Aloe challisii, www.nesaflora.co.za, D.R. McKenzie) Introduction What looks like grass growing in an unkempt meadow but looks like an aloe too? It is a grass aloe….

Neoraimondia gigantea flower

Peruvian Cacti (No. 1)

(Photograph = Neoraimondia gigantea, Craig Howe) Introduction Peru has an amazing complexity of plant life, with tropical rainforests, deserts, rivers. Moreover, these plant habitats range from seal level…

Cactus wren and cholla

Cactus Wren

(Photograph = Cactus wren) Introduction The cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) is a common sight in the the Western deserts, from far West Texas to California and southern Nevada….

Cephalocereus columna-trajani,

Cephalocereus columna-trajani

 (Photograph = forest of Cephalocereus columna-trajani, Lon and Queta) Introduction Cactiguide.com reports a number of names have been applied to this magnificent cactus: Cereus columna-trajani, Pilocereus columna-trajani, Pachycereus columna-trajani,…

Nectary, Alexanderwild.com

Extrafloral Nectaries

(Photograph = ant with nectary, alexanderwild.com) Introduction Nectaries are small glands, often found inside flowers. They secrete nectar that is consumed by pollinators. The Details Cacti have nectaries…

Cylindropuntia echinocarpa-nancy

Mojave Desert in the Spring

 (Photograph = Cylindropuntia echinocarpa, Nancy Hussey) Introduction The Mojave Desert stretches from northwestern Arizona to the Salton Sea and north to Death Valley and beyond. The desert even…

Aeonium haworthii

Aeonium, Rosette Plants

(Photograph = Aeonium haworthii, Manuel M Ramos) Introduction The 3 1/2 dozen Aeonium species are found in Africa and the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands hosts most of the…

Sclerocactus parviflorus, Dorde Woodruff


(Photograph = Sclerocactus parviflorus, Dorde Woodruff) Introduction The genus Sclerocactus is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico (Cactiguide.com). The plants occur widely but sporadically often over  small…


Cactus Seeds Are Orthodox

(Photograph = Barrel cactus fruit and seeds,  Desertoirisebotanicals.com) Introduction Some seeds, like avocado seeds, don’t last too long. They can dry out and die in a few months…

Desert trash

Desert Trash

(Photograph = desert trash, Renee Silverman) Introduction Litter and trash are harmful to cacti and succulents. Trash can be discarded in an instant, but the damage it does…

Opuntia, Patrick Denker

Cliffs and Canyons

(Photograph = Opuntia spinosibacca, Patrick Denker) Introduction Cliffs and bluffs along rivers can be home to many cacti and succulents. Similarly, rocky soils at the base of the…

Opuntia megasperma var megasperma

Opuntia of the Galapagos Islands

(Photograph = Opuntia megasperma var megasperma, wildlifetravel.com) Introduction The Galapagos Islands are far from the mainland of South America. At some time in the distant past, iguanas, birds, Opuntia,…