Roots

Most cacti have roots that spread widely just below the surface of the soil, enabling them to absorb water that has percolated only through the upper part of the soil following a brief desert rain. Some cacti, however, such as Ariocarpus, Lopho-phora, Peniocereus, Pterocactus, and some species of Copiapoa (C. atacamensis, for example) have huge taproots for water storage, with small secondary roots arising from them. Many globose cacti have a compact root system consisting of short lateral roots just beneath the surface of the ground, enabling them quickly to absorb water that runs off the plant itself. Some slender, climb-

Vascular wedges and wide rays of the stem, cross section of Quiabentia verticillata; photomicrograph by James Mauseth
Shallow, diffuse root system typical of most cacti, here an overturned Copiapoa coquimbana

Flowers of Myrtillocactus geometrizans, a single areole producing a cluster ing or creeping cacti such as Peniocereus greggii and Pterocactusfischeri have massive underground roots that look like tubers. Climbing cacti such as Hylocereus and Selenicereus as well as creeping devil cactus, Stenocereus eruca, produce only adventitious roots at points where the stems contact a substrate.

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