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Topic – Cactus Plants

Read the Following Selection

Read the following selection, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Cactus Plants

A saguaro cactus.

There are many different kinds of cactus plants. What makes cactus plants different from other kinds of plants?

Growing in the Desert

Plants need sunlight and water to stay alive. Most deserts are hot, sandy places where it rains very little. There is lots of sunlight in a desert, but there is very little rain to water plants. Most plants can’t grow in a dry desert, but cactus plants can!

When it does rain in a desert, a cactus plant’s roots soak up the water. The roots and the top part of a cactus can hold lots of water. Most plants can’t do that. A cactus plant uses the water a little bit at a time to stay alive. That’s why a cactus plant can stay alive until the next time there is rain in the desert.

Shapes and Sizes

Cactus plants come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are tall and thin, and others are shaped like a ball. The saguaro cactus (say saguaro like this: sa-wah-roe) has branches that look like arms reaching up to the sky!

Leaves and Flowers

Can you think of a plant that has no leaves? Most cactus plants have no leaves. They are covered with prickly needles called spines. Most animals don’t eat cactus plants because of the sharp spines.

Cactus plants can grow flowers. Some kinds of cactus plants don’t grow flowers until the plant is over 30 years old. Other kinds of cactus grow flowers only if they get just the right amount of sunlight and water.

Now, show what you know!

Complete some questions about the reading selection by clicking “Begin Questions” below.

Brain Stretch: View Internet photos of various types of cactus plants, including photos that show cactus plants in bloom.