The plant family Cactaceae contains about 1750 species arranged into 127 genera. They are one of the plant families that people associate with being a cactus, but Agave, Aloes and Euphorbias and not in this family. To be a cactus, the plant must produce flowers that have many tepals (combined sepals and petals). They are integrated together. They will have many stamens (usually hundreds), and numerous stigma lobes (rarely only three).

Most are endemic to the New World although a few come from Africa, Sri Lanka and Madagascar. They are predominately found in regions that are semi-arid, low rainfall, but must have a dependable rainy season. The most well known cactus is the Saguaro and this is the largest cactus in the United States.

Pronunciation: kak-TAY-see-ee

Name Derivation: The name comes from the Ancient Greek κάκτος, kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant

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