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The tallest cac­tus is Pachyc­ereus pringlei, which can reach heights just shy of 20 me­tres; the small­est, Bloss­fel­dia liliputana, is an easy-toover­look 2cm di­am­e­ter.

Think you’re thirsty? A fully grown saguaro can take up to 2,500 litres of wa­ter in 10 days.

Leg­end says that the Aztecs were told to set­tle where they spot­ted an ea­gle, car­ry­ing a snake, perched on a cac­tus. This spot be­came Tenochti­tlán, now part of mod­ern day Mex­ico City – and is vis­i­ble on the coat of arms of the Mex­i­can flag.

In the wild, cac­tus plant can live from be­tween 25 to 300 years. Less in the home, es­pe­cially if you over­wa­ter – which is the big­gest killer of do­mes­tic cacti.

‘Cacti’ is the Latin plu­ral; ‘cac­tuses’ is the English plu­ral. Pedants please note: dic­tio­nar­ies list both.

They’re only na­tive to North and South Amer­ica, with one brave ex­cep­tion found in trop­i­cal Africa, Mada­gas­car and Sri Lanka.

All cacti flower: it’s just some only do it at night and, for some, the bloom only lasts a few days.

Cacti fea­ture in the cave paint­ings in Brazil’s Serra da Capi­vara. Seeds have also been found in an­cient mid­dens (waste dumps), in Mex­ico and Peru, dat­ing from around 10,000 years ago.

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