Sun Shining on a Cactus

Ever wonder how a cactus finds the sun? They rotate to face it. Really?

Every cactus knows exactly where the sun is. They know this from their first day of life, and will always reach for the light in their natural angle of repose. At the Huntington Botanical Garden, their massive old golden barrel cactus are so illustrative of this fact. Virtually every one of these large old specimens leans southward.

It’s true of our native cactus too. The compass barrel (Ferocactus cylindriacus) is so named because it always leans however slightly to the south. They do this so reliably that their inclination was once used for reckoning much the same way pioneers found north from moss that grows only on that side of a tree trunk.

OK, maybe not rotate exactly, but leaning isn’t as exciting a story as rotating.

  Cactus and Succulents
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August 2019
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