A cactus is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Cactaceae. Cacti or cactuses are a large family of about 2,000 species and 139 genera. Cacti originate from the desert and semi-desert regions of North and South America. Mexico has the widest variety of cacti species. Only a few cactus genera are native to dry regions of East Africa, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar.
Cacti are typically perennial, succulent plants that store water in their fleshy stems. This is an adaptation feature of these plants as they are native to arid regions. Almost all cactus species have spines or glochids (barbed bristles) that make them recognizable from the other succulent plant varieties. Flowers and more branches grow from areoles.
Cacti are popularly grown as houseplants. They are very easy to grow and need minimal maintenance. Most of these plants bear attractive flowers. Unique as they are, cactus flower meaning is also exclusive to each of the cacti plants. Cacti are also popular living fences. Fruits of some cacti like the dragon fruit, and the prickly pear are edible.
The word Cactus is derived from the Greek word ‘Kaktos’ in the 1600s. It was used for describing the Spanish artichoke or cardoon plant with spines that were found in Sicily. Although the cardoon or artichoke thistle was prickly, it is not similar to the appearance of what is now called the cactus.
Cactus has been known to humans for centuries and finds pictorial representation in the ancient Aztec art, and sculpture. Not only was it known to the Aztec civilization of Northern Mexico but also to the Inca Empire in Peru.
The national coat of arms of Mexico displays a cactus along with an eagle, and a snake.
The first cactus arrived in Europe with Christopher Columbus. The unique plant created extreme curiosity and interest among scientists and plant growers.
Not only did cactus plants make an impression in Europe, but the prickly pear cactus was taken to Australia in the 19th century. It became popular as a natural fence for use as a natural fence. Another purpose of this caucus was to feed the cochineal industry, where an insect is bred for producing a substance that acts like a red dye.
The interest in cactus grew so much among scientists, botanists, and gardeners that every year, new kinds of cactus were discovered. Due to over-harvesting, many cacti have become endangered in the wild.
Since cacti or cactuses are plants that grow originally in arid regions, they thrive best in partly sandy, well-drained soil. They need plenty of sunlight, high temperature, and less moisture to remain healthy. Root rot is a common problem if a cactus is overwatered.
Cactus flower meaning and symbolism vary in different cultures. In some cultures, it is seen as a symbol of protection whereas in some it signifies evil intentions. Some consider it a sign of an unwelcoming gesture due to its prickly spines. Cactus flower meaning is often connected to endurance, patience, persistence, and toughness due to its capability of flourishing in adverse weather conditions of the deserts. However, this extraordinary plant species holds great significance and medical value beneath those prickly thorns.
Research shows that incorporating a particular cactus into the diet can reduce cholesterol, body fat, and blood pressure. Some cactus fruits can help in alleviating the risk of coronary heart diseases and stroke. Cacti fruits like nopales and prickly pear have high antioxidant contents and are rich in vitamins, and minerals. Some other parts of the cactus are also used for treating health conditions like glaucoma, ulcers, fatigue, and liver diseases.
What Do Cactus Flowers Symbolize
Most cactus varieties may not appear to be as pretty and ornate as several other ornate house plants but most cacti have beautiful flowers. The tough exterior is misleading as they have a soft inside that’s hidden inside. Mostly bright, and colorful, cactus flower meaning vary according to their color.
The native American plant species represents several deeper spiritual meanings. Spiritually, cactus plants symbolize endurance and the ability to perceive beyond what is visible to the eyes. These flowering plants are also connected to trust and protection against danger.
The beauty of cacti lies in their existence. The internal system of storing water and nutrients, the ability to face odds and hardship, and the property to heal is a true marvel. Cacti mostly found in barren lands also stand for the capability of pushing the extreme limits of one’s life.
In some cultures, cacti symbolize sexual attraction and loneliness. In the Japanese language of flowers or Hanakotoba, a cactus in bloom is gifted to someone to express sexual attraction. Cactus plants are also given to people who need inspiration.
In Feng Shui, placing a cactus correctly in the house is very important. When placed near the entrance door, it may attract negativity.
What Do the Various Colors of the Cactus Flower Mean
Cactus flowers bloom in some of the brightest colors and every cactus flower meaning is special depending on the hue they flaunt. The vibrant, eye-catching blooms can be seen in the brightest shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. Cacti usually have large and showy flowers. Cactus flowers naturally add a pop of color to desert landscapes and interiors when they are cared for.
Red: Red is the color of warmth, romance, and admiration. It also represents energy, happiness, good fortune, and success. Cacti with bright red flowers can be a great birthday or graduation gift. Although red flowers are mostly connected to love, giving a cactus with red flowers is a big NO! Remember they have thorns that may communicate unfriendly messages.
White: White cactus flower meaning is similar to most white blooms. They represent innocence, purity, sacrifice, and sympathy. Cactus flowers are also connected to motherly love, protection, strength, and resilience.
Yellow: Yellow is a cheerful color and flowers blooming in shades of yellow also represent joy. Yellow cactus flowers in a room can usher in some positive energy.
Pink: Pink cactus flowers represent grace, friendship, and happiness.
Orange: Orange is a color of happiness, health, and vibrancy. Orange cactus flowers represent excitement, fervor, warmth, and enthusiasm.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Cactus Flower
- Not all, but most cactus plants produce showy flowers.
- Cacti open their stomata only during the night to preserve water.
- During summer when the temperatures are extremely hot and there is a lack of water, some cacti become dormant. They do not grow or make food at all during this phase.
- The prickly cactus spines are actually leaves.
- All cacti spines are not the same. They may be round, awl-like, curved, straight, bristle, or hair-like.
- Cacti can live for ages. Some varieties can even live up to 200 years.
Best Time to Gift Someone Cactus Flowers
Blooming cacti look extremely attractive and can win anyone’s heart. Gifting cacti with flowers can be a bit tricky. In the language of flowers, the cactus has some very conflicting meanings. Some believe it to be a gesture of protection from misfortune and danger whereas some think it is expressing lust.
A cactus flower cannot be given as a gift separately. You have to give a potted plant that’s in bloom. Cacti can be gifted on birthdays, anniversaries, and graduation, to people who admire these hardy, charming plants.