Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 15, 2023

Why are cacti so prickly?

from Organ Pipe National Park
Your first inclination might be to assume that their sharp spines act as a line of defense against hungry desert critters who might otherwise demolish their succulent, water-filled bodies, but that doesn’t stop javelina or packrats.
While they might deter some animals, a more important function of spines is that they create their own microclimates on cacti by acting as insulation. In the summer during high heat and sun intensity, they can provide shade and prevent evaporation, and in the colder winter months they can hold heat in. These prickly barriers can also help to funnel valuable moisture down towards the roots of the cacti.
What other uses do you think spines have? Find out more about our desert cacti at

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