Why to prickle cactuses?
you Think, only for self-defense? Here not. Their task is reduced not only to it, it is much wider and more interesting. Give together “ we will be run “ on prickles of cactuses and in brief we will examine their functions.
Prickles at them differ in a huge variety. Happen sharp as needles, at the same time long and short. Curved and kryuchkovidny, rigid and soft, radiant and bound in balls, plumose and volosovidny, more reminding down. And not to list all versions. But, irrespective of the external structure, they play a paramount role in life of plants of family Cactaceous.
First of all they serve for moisture absorption. In those places where these unusual plants grow, long months, and sometimes and for years, there are no rains. As a rule, in deserts sharp difference of temperatures is within a day observed. On an end of night can be only couple of degrees of heat, and in the middle of the day air is heated to +40 - 50 degrees. It is natural that under such circumstances there is an intensive condensation of water vapor with formation of plentiful dew. That`s it dew is also cactuses the main source of moisture.
Cactuses are capable to absorb water all surface of a stalk, but prickles do it especially intensively. They are the modified leaves reminding microscopically thin tubules which actively soak up the slightest moisture. Yes, from one drop you will not get drunk. But on one adult cactus thousands of prickles! And everyone gets the dewdrop in the mornings. As they say, many a little, i.e. on a drop, here and thirst satisfied.
Of course, serve in some degree of a prickle also for protection. But, having thought, it is easy to guess that animals will hardly be able to live in those places where rains go time in several years. Therefore and to be protected especially there is nobody. Cactuses with the soft and thin prickles which are not representing special danger grow in such regions.
Cactuses with the large and rare prickles which are not covering a stalk at all are inhabitants of grassy places. It is clear, that these prickles cannot actively give to drink or protect from the scorching sun. Yes and no in it need when around it is full of the grass and bushes giving a fertile shadow. And there is quite enough moisture for normal life here. The droughty period is always replaced by a rainy season. Therefore such here prickles happen enough impressive sizes and serve only for protection against herbivores. Firm and sharp, they for a long time beat off desire to taste such cactus.
One more problem of prickles - protection of a stalk against the scorching sun. At some types of cactuses of a prickle so densely cover a stalk that it is almost not visible. And there are types covered with the dense white down reminding magnificent fur. And white color is not casual here at all: its ability to effectively reflect light is well-known. All this helps to avoid a pernicious overheat right in the sun. And at cold night such fur coat will protect from cold when there are subzero temperatures frequent in these parts.
And still prickles serve as ornament to attract fans - kaktusist. I know, sounds ridiculously, but fans of cactuses will understand me. Because a variety of forms, the sizes and shades of kaktusny prickles just stuns. I will give some examples. Cannot but admire prickles - Mammillaria plumosa plumelets - this beauty just out of competition!
Mammillaria lasiacantha can show the whole group of plants with prickles - plumelets. What does it look like? From an areola thin rays of numerous prickles disperse, each of which separately reminds a plumelet on the structure.
And Mammillaria bocasana in the white down fur coat - simply charm, the Snow Maiden who got lost in hot latitudes. By the way, about snow. Mammillaria egregia in an ideal order covered with the snow-white prickles reminding themselves openwork snowflakes impresses. I think, there are enough these descriptions to imagine unique beauty of these creations.
The world of cactuses is big and various. Within centuries there was a process of adaptation of these surprising plants to extreme climatic conditions which arose in places of their dwelling. And as a result these plants which do not have neither branches, nor foliage could learn to live and daily successfully to solve a problem of getting, accumulation and a rational expenditure of reviver. I think, they are worthy our admiration.