Prickly Pear Cactus

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Prickly Pear Cactus - Provided by eHow
The Prickly Pear cactus retains water easily, so it can survive in dry, sandy climates easily. Learn about the prickly pear cactus with tips from an ecologist in this free video on Texas trees. View Video Transcript

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Kerry Russel

Video Transcript

My name is Kerry Russel. I have a Masters degree in Landscape Ecology. So, in keeping with some of the other species that we've been looking at this afternoon that have been growing on very sandy soils, very dry sites, and the significance of why we keep referring back to this notion of sandy soils, to call it sandy means that it doesn't have a lot of clay in it. And clay is the component of a soil that helps to retain water. So to have a sandy soil that doesn't have any clay in it means that it's going to be a home to species that don't require a lot of water, or they've evolved in such a way as to still find a certain competitiveness or fitness inside that dry habitat. The post oak we looked at is very true, doubly true of the blue jack oak that we just looked at, and then walking just a little bit further away from the blue jack oak, it doesn't surprise me at all that we would find a prickly pear cactus. This is a variety of prickly pear. The scientific name we call Opuntia Lintamorai, is the scientific name of this cactus, and it's a succulent like all cactuses. It retains a lot of water, and just like the yaupon that we saw earlier, the one that's right here next to it, one of the mechanisms that it has to retain water, so that it can grow in a habitat like this is this waxy cuticle on the yaupon, just as this cactus, which of course I'm not going to touch, has a waxy cuticle on it as well. Very fleshy, full of water, that's what we mean when we call it a succulent.