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If you find a thick, succulent plant with clusters of spines it is certainly a member of the Cactus family. The regular, bisexual flowers are showy with numerous sepals, petals and stamens. The ovary is positioned inferior and consists of 2 or more united carpels (syncarpous) forming a single chamber. It matures as a pulpy "berry" with numerous seeds and usually spines. The cacti originated in the New World. Worldwide, there are now about 125 genera and more than 2,000 species. Sixteen genera are found in North America. Some well-known members of this family include peyote (Lophophora Williamsii), saguaro (Carnegiea or Cereus), Christmas cactus (Zygocactus), and the barrel cactus (Ferocactus). The spines of some species were once used as phonograph needles.
Key Words: Succulent desert plants with spines. Flower parts numerous.
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