Cacti / Desert Succulents
Cactus plants come in many shapes and sizes, have sharp spines, and showy flowers. They are found around the world but are native to the Americas. Some cacti may look like a pincushion; others a cow’s tongue or a beaver’s tail and some like a shrub or small tree. With nearly 2000 species of cacti in the world, a variety of shapes and appearances can be found.
The best habitats for most cacti are in hot, dry regions such as the desert southwest portion of the United States. However some cacti also thrive in mountains, rainforests, and even arctic regions.
The spines of a cactus can vary in size and shape. Some spines are long and rigid while others may resemble a fishhook. The spines grow from areoles (modified branches) in clusters, and prevent the plant from being eaten by animals.
All cacti produce flowers. Colors can range from white to yellow to red and may bloom for only a short time, some less than one day. The flower also originates from the areoles, and the bright blossoms attract birds, bats, and insects to pollinate them. Once pollinated, the cactus will produce a fruit filled with seeds, which can then be eaten and scattered by birds and other animals.
Zion National Park is home to number of different cactus species, including Purple torch, Claret cup, Pricklypear, and Cholla.
Did You Know?
During the summer or fall, you may see a tarantula crossing a road or trail in Zion National Park. But don’t be frightened-- tarantulas are actually amazing arachnids--gentle, basically harmless creatures that have suffered a bum rap. More...