Discover the 3 Cactus Parts that Sets it Apart

The parts of cactus are quite distinctive in relation to shrubs and garden plants, there is no doubt. Although it is true that some cactus parts are same as other plants, such as roots, flowers, fruits, stem, leaves … Cacti are identifiable and have 3 characteristic parts that must be differentiated.

The 3 Characteristic Cactus Parts

cactus parts


They are the distinctive and unique characteristic of cacti, so they function as an identifier for a vast number of species, which distinguish them from similar succulents.

Areolas are the spine and flower growth nodes for cacti. They have various shapes but are usually rounded and full of hair or thorns, being the only place from which they grow. The thorns are the most popular or characteristic parts of the cactus.

These are found on the stem and have a whitish to brown color in light tones, managing to remain active for a few years, in most cases, leaving a number of spines fixed to the plant, unless they are lost due to environmental circumstances.

Here different types of areolas according to the species of cactus.


The reason why they are part of the succulents family is the stem. Of the 3 parts of the cactus, it is this that has the ability to store water. It is known that in some species the amount of water ​​in the stem can reach up to 90% of the plant’s weight!

As this varies depending on the availability of moisture in the environment, the shape of the cactus also changes. They can bulge to the point that some typical features or channels almost disappear, as in the case of the Cereus species, or become strongly marked when the precious liquid is scarce. In fact, this loss or gain can occur in a localized way so as not to affect the entire plant. You can have a cactus with branches that are more hydrated than others.

For photosynthesis, the standard coloration of the Cactaceae is green with different shades depending on the type, however; unlike ordinary plants, our beloved thorns do not carry out the processing of carbon oxides from the environment during the day, because if they do so, the possibility of losing water increases. For this reason, they adapted in such a way that the energy from the sun is conserved as special chemical compounds, which are later used as batteries during the night when the photosynthetic process is completed.

Another important section in the stem is the upper part, called the crown, its growth zone, which is where the cactus spreads.

We can usually find cacti with the following shapes:

  • Globular, which are those shaped like a globe or similar to a sphere.
  • The Cladodes, with a flattened stem or with the shape of a flattened drop.
  • Columnars are the typical ones shown in logos and television in the shape of a cylinder.


To survive in diverse substrates and terrains, cacti have developed roots that allow them to take advantage of their environment and survive where the most resistant ones could not. Each root corresponds to a type of particular need of the species.

There are 4 most frequent types of cactus roots, classified according to their shape.

  • Taproots – large, central, and dominant root from which other roots sprout laterally. Typically a taproot is somewhat straight and very thick, is tapering in shape, and grows directly downward.
  • Fibrous roots – the opposite of a taproot system. It is usually formed by thin, moderately branching roots growing from the stem.
  • Napiform roots – one when much swollen at the base, so as to become broader than long, as that of the turnip.
  • Tuberous roots – an enlarged fleshy root modified as a storage organ with shoots produced at one end and roots produced at the other.