A succulent plant with a waxy epidermas and spines to conserve evaporation. Some cacti have evolved their water-saving nature so far as to appear as small pebbles nestled in the ground. Native to areas with little annual rainfall. Most species occur in the Americas and the larger ones can provide homes/food for animals.

Plants of this group are highly adapted to survival in dry environments. They are so advanced that for the most part they look nothing like most other plants. Cactus spines evolved for protection, and possibly also as shade for the plants in some cases. The spines are not leaves; in fact, there are some 'primitive' varieties of cactus which still have small leaves wedged between the spines. Alternatively, in Africa and other areas which lack cactus, there are other plants which have evolved to look very much like cactus.

Many of these, some from the diverse Euphorbiaceae family, have the same form as a cactus, right down to the ribs, the cylindrical shape, and the spines. However, they are genetically unrelated to cactus. This is a case of convergent evolution. One way to tell a cactus from a non-cactus is to look where the spines connect to the plant. A cactus will usually have a small pad there, which the spines are attatched to. Many succulents which have cactus-like forms are mistaken as cactus. The 'living rock' (Lithops) or 'baby toes' type succulents are not actually related to cactus, although phylogenically they are similar. All cacti are succulents; however not all succulents are cacti

The code name for SafeAudio, yet another annoying technology brought to you by Macrovision that "protects" consumers' (the RIAA's) interests by preventing piracy (and "unfortunatly" fair use as well): the digital copying of CD Audio.

The practical upshot of all this is that your music will now have "barely perceptable" clicks and pops throughout that your HiFi will ignore, but your computer will complain about.

There are fears that some older HiFi equipment could be damaged by the noise inserted into the CD tracks; this could prove very amusing, especially in places where CD copying is legal.

Cac"tus (?), n. ; pl. E. Cactuses (#), Cacti (-ti). [L., a kind of cactus, Gr. .] Bot.

Any plant of the order Cactacae, as the prickly pear and the night-blooming cereus. See Cereus. They usually have leafless stems and branches, often beset with clustered thorns, and are mostly natives of the warmer parts of America.

Cactus wren Zool., an American wren of the genus Campylorhynchus, of several species.


© Webster 1913.

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