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Cacti appeared on Earth tens of millions of years ago, but for such a long period of their existence they have not attracted much human attention. Only at the beginning of the 18th century, the eminent botanist Karl Linnaeus proposed to create a classification, according to which cacti were isolated as a separate species. During the incredibly long life of the plant on earth, many real giants have appeared among succulents. Next – the top 3 most impressive of them.
Giants among succulents: top 3 largest cactus on Earth
|Giants among succulents: top 3 largest cactus on Earth||1||Ferocactus||1 meter||4.5 meters|
|2||Carnegia giant (saguaro)||3 meters||14 meters|
The plant was discovered back in the distant 18th century. An interesting find was discovered by botanist William Houston. Immediately after the discovery of the cactus, he hastened to inform the world community about it. In translation, the name of the cactus means 'cruel and wild cactus'.
A uniquely sized flowering plant lives in absolute wilderness, in the endless steppe expanses of North America, close to the desert in terms of the scarcity of vegetation and moisture. Ferocactus can often be found in desert states such as New Mexico or Utah. And this is not surprising, since ferocactus adore hot, dry climates (by the way, they can withstand frost, but not very long).
Often, a cactus resembles a ball or cylinder in shape, armed with dense rows of fierce sharp thorns. Some plant varieties are truly gigantic in size. A striking example is Ferocactus pilosus. A variety of one of the largest cacti on the planet reaches 1 meter in diameter and 4.5 meters in height. Flowering is observed only in old specimens, while the flowers that appear on the plant are rather large in size, have a red or yellowish tint.
Interesting fact. Large ferocactuses are subject to careful handling, but smaller specimens are widely used by Native Americans in everyday life. Young flowers are eaten as cabbage, after boiling in water. Barrel pulp is often used as an ingredient in candy making.
Carnegia giant (saguaro)
Giant carnegia, or as the Mexicans call it saguaro, is one of the largest cacti in the world. Discovered in 1988. A huge cactus has grown in one of the American states (Arizona) to an incredible size – about 17.5 meters in height. It's incredible, because such a height can be comparable, for example, with a 7-storey building.
The largest among the saguaro species still living cacti – a specimen that has reached a height of almost 14 meters and 3 meters in diameter, grew in the South American district of Maricupa. The flowers of the giant are considered the emblem of the state in which it grows. To understand the size of the flowers alone, it is enough to mention the size of their stamens: often birds build nests between them. It is worth noting that the Arizona giant is not the only one. For example, in Mexico, many huge cacti grow.
Many saguaros reach a height of about 12-13 meters, weighing an incredible 6-10 tons. But in order to reach such an incredible size, saguaro takes a long time. For the first 30 years of its life, the cactus barely exceeds 1 meter in height. Then a period of rapid growth begins – during this phase of its existence, the plant daily adds 1 millimeter in height.
Only after reaching the age of 75 does the cactus acquire its characteristic appearance – a powerful trunk with no less massive lateral processes. The average age of a giant carnegia is incredible for a succulent – 150 years.
In Arizona, vulnerable cacti are treated with care: harming slow-growing succulents is strictly prohibited by law. Even during construction work, it is mandatory to take into account whether the cacti will be affected. In order to prevent the disappearance of the iconic symbol of the Old West, it was decided to take under the protection of huge areas of Arizona's leafless saguaro forests: in 1994, the Saguaro National Park was formed.
And, although giant cacti are a rather unusual sight, it is worth visiting the park in order to see with your own eyes the unusual world of the Sonoran Desert – the Green Desert. The fact is that it is considered one of the most blooming on earth. And the fauna here is quite diverse: even 100-year-old turtles are found in Sonora.
Among the cereus, there are many large succulents, but we will talk about the most outstanding specimen in the literal sense of the word, however, more on that later. The huge succulent cereus originated in the Caribbean, formerly the West Indies. Today it is found in every part of America. As you might expect, the cereus loves the desert, and therefore it is found exclusively in such territories.
The stem of the plant has the shape of a cylinder, its average height is 13-15 meters, the average weight is more than 6 tons (sometimes it exceeds 10 tons). Until the age of 70, cereus are cylindrical in shape. After overcoming this life period, the plant begins to actively 'grow' lateral branches. The life cycle of Cereus reaches 300 years, which makes it one of the longest-livers among the earth's flora.
Interesting fact. Fruits ripening on giant cacti, Cereus (and not only), are suitable for human consumption. From a distance, they can be mistaken for ordinary tomatoes. Succulent fruits can save a traveler's life by becoming an excellent alternative to food and water. But cactus fruits are not just edible: they contain an impressive vitamin and mineral complex. They are often used as the main ingredient in local spirits.
The largest representative of Cereus is the famous 200-year-old California giant, reaching 25 meters in height. The succulent plant is officially considered the largest in the world – it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. According to the calculations of the researchers, this cactus is a real reservoir: its trunk contains more than 2 tons of moisture. By the way, the California giant, like the largest saguaros, grows in the American state of Arizona.
Is it possible to grow 'giants' at home?
Of course you can. For the comfortable growth of ferocactus, you will need a well-lit place, constant access to fresh air, a high-quality substrate for succulents, moderately humid air (ideally dry). Ferocactus does not need additional moisture – sometimes it is enough to wash off the dust from the surface of the plant with a warm shower.
Home-grown carnegia is a fairly large cactus. It grows slowly and is never big. The growing place should be as sunny as possible, watering should be rare. Carnegia loves air very dry, but extremely clean. Even the slightest drafts are not allowed.
Cereus growing at home is a real pride for any grower. The cactus blooms even indoors, but for this it is important to comply with a number of requirements. First, high-quality lighting. Secondly, constant access to moisture (not watering, but spraying a couple of times a week) and watering with exclusively filtered water. Thirdly, the soil used for planting cereus should contain brick chips and sand.
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