Desert House

Only plants that can store water (succulents) are able to survive in deserts and semi-deserts with little rain and strong sunlight. These are not only cacti, but also other succulents from many different plant families.

Succulent plants

The succulents get their name from Latin suculentus, i.e. sap-rich. Depending on where the plants store water, a distinction is made between leaf, stem and root succulents. The plants have to use the stored wet very carefully. They may even reduce the number of stomata - "breathing holes" - through which water could be lost. In this way, succulent plants can easily survive dry periods of several months.

Cacti, with one exception (Rhipsalis baccifera), are all native to the New World, the American continent. 

Echinocactus grusonii 1750  WL 22.10.2007 (2).jpg
Gold ball cactus or mother-in-law cushion (Echinocactus grusonii) © W. Lobin / Universität Bonn
Lithops broomfieldii 25246 WL 31.10.2012.jpg
Living stones (Lithops broomfieldii) © W. Lobin / Universität Bonn

Not a cactus - but succulent

The term "succulents" covers species from different, unrelated families. Under the same site conditions, very similar forms of water storage have developed - completely independently of each other - in the various species.

Especially well adapted to their environment are the Living Stones (Lithops). They are only really visible when they bloom. Their botanical name comes from the Greek "lithos" - stone, and "ops" - appearance. Lithops are native to southern Africa.

Cactus of the year 2021 Dragon fruit

One of the most striking flowering cacti is the dragon fruit or pitahaya (Hylocereus undatus), a queen of the night. The large flowers open in the early evening and close again by morning. 

The dragon fruit has white flesh and a striking pink skin. It is also imported in our country and tastes sweet and sour.

Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) © W. Lobin / Universität Bonn
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