Barrel cactus has several ways of adapting to the desert climate where it grows, and some of them include the presence of sharp and long thorns and the absence of leaves to conserve water. The desert climate is characterized by cold nights and hot days, and generally windy weather.
The barrel cactus is easily differentiated from other desert plants because its body has the shape of a cylinder. Its height ranges from 5 to 11 feet, and its sides have ridges with dangerous sharp spines that are 3 to 4 inches long. This plant is classified among the flowering plants because it has red or yellow-green rings that blossom at the top of it. For it to survive in the harsh climate of the desert, barrel cactus possesses the following characteristics.
- Barrel cactus lack leaves and this helps in reducing transpiration and conserving water.
- The plant has sharp and long thorns that keep animals away from eating it and extracting the stored water in its stem. This is why it is sometimes known as the wild or fierce cactus.
- It stores water in its thick, fleshy stem where the predators cannot reach because it is covered with thorns.
- A waxy surface covers the stem to minimize transpiration and water loss.
- The pleated stem expands when the water is plenty and shrinks when the water decreases.