Cacti, Succulents, and More...


Sclerocactus wetlandicus, Dorde Woodruff

(Photograph = Sclerocactus wetlandicus, Dorde Woodruff) Introduction The genus Sclerocactus is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico ( The plants occur widely but sporadically often over  small areas, but some species have very small home ranges and small overall numbers. The Details Sclerocactus plants seldom branch; they form small cylinders or globes. Often the areoles produce […]

Griffiths’ Glass C...

Opuntia tribuloides

(Photograph = Opuntia tribuloides) 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 well over one hundred Opuntia species from the USA and Mexico and took thousands of black and white photographs. The Details Many of Griffiths’ photographs are stored as glass […]

Cactus Seeds Are Orthodo...


(Barrel cactus fruit and seeds = Introduction Some seeds, like avocado seeds, don’t last too long. They can dry out and die in a few months or a year. Other seeds retain viability for years; they are orthodox. The Details Orthodox seeds are seeds that can survive a long time when dry and cool. In contrast, […]

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 may take hundreds of years to repair in slow-moving deserts. The Details Soil pollution from man-made causes is sometimes easy to see: industrial waste, asphalt, and even […]

Cliffs and Canyons

Opuntia on steep rocky cliff

(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 cliffs can make good homes. The Details Steep cliffs can be difficult for cacti to colonize, but they can also be safe havens, free from the pressures […]

Opuntia of the Galapagos...

Opuntia megasperma var megasperma

(Photograph = Opuntia megasperma var megasperma, Introduction The Galapagos Islands are far from the mainland of South America. At some time in the distant past, iguanas, birds, Opuntia, and other organisms made their way there and diverged over time into new species not found on the mainland. The Details It depends how you count them, […]

Blog Host


My name is Joe Shaw. I live in Maryland. I enjoy writing about plants. I especially enjoy growing and writing about cacti and succulents and their biology.

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