Only certain types of cacti plants can survive in Africa. This is because many cactus species have very short root systems, so they do require some moisture.
The deserts in North and South America are often close enough to the parameters of a mountain to retain enough moisture for survival.
The deserts in South Africa are much drier than America, so only certain cactus plants can survive.
Are you curious about what cacti species can withstand the extreme heat and lack of water from the African desert? Keep reading to find out what they are.
6 Types of Cactus in The African Desert
The Sahara desert is known for being one of the driest deserts in Africa. Its extreme temperature fluctuations within a day also make it very difficult for many types of plants to stay alive in such conditions.
However, some species of cactus plant can handle water loss and the hot sun beating down on them every day.
There are 6 members of the cactaceae family that can be found in the African desert. Here is what they are:
This is one of the hew cacti species that can naturally grow outside of America. While it’s a native plant to South American, it is most commonly found growing in Africa and Sri Lanka.
Many people believe that this type of cacti was introduced to other regions of the world through migratory birds.
This plant does exceptionally well in tropical areas as well. Areas like Tenerife in the Canary Islands, provide the perfect location for these cacti species to thrive.
Opuntia Ficus Indica
This species of cacti are actually referred to as “Beles” by people in Africa. People love this plant because the spines produce a sweet cactus fruit.
It is a species of prickly pear cacti and could grow to be up to 16.5 feet tall. Since it is one of the most widespread cactus plants, the opuntia ficus can be found in many deserts throughout the world.
African Peyote Cactus Plant
Peyote is an American cactus that has the right features to do well in Africa. It’s one of the few cacti species that can even thrive in the Sahara.
This cactus doesn’t require very much water, and it has longer roots than most cactus plants, so it is capable of going deeper into the soil.
Barrel Cactus Plants
These are short round cacti that usually grow up to 1 meter in height. They are very easy to grow and are often used as ornamental cacti.
While they are most commonly found in Southern American and Mexico, they can do well in nearly any desert. However, these cacti do prefer to grow in Southern regions to avoid surface tissue sunburn.
The pachycereus pringlei is most commonly found in Mexican deserts, however, it thrives in very hot conditions.
This is why it can also survive the extreme conditions of an African desert. Pachycereus pringlei is one type of cactus that rarely needs water. Actually, they do best when their living conditions are as dry as possible.
Most people can recognize a pachycereus pringlei because of its many spines. One really interesting thing about this species of cactus is that it doesn’t need soil to grow because they are capable of growing on rocks.
This type of cactus was originally from Cape Town and introduced in the 19th century. It is another hybrid of prickly pear cacti and has migrated to several spots across the world. Opuntia can be found in Kenya and other parts of Africa. This type of cacti has many pretty flowering plants, but they can become invasive.
Many areas in Africa have been infested with Opuntia, however, it is mainly an ornamental plant.
The cactaceae family has many different species, however, they are not all capable of growing in the African desert. Most species of cacti plants originate in America, and they get used to the living conditions within the warmer states and Mexico.
This doesn’t mean that all types of cacti need to stay in their native region. There are a few cacti varieties that can grow in Africa.
In order for a cactus to do well in Africa, it needs to be able to handle hotter and drier conditions. Many American deserts experience late summer rainfalls, which is not common in African deserts.
These cacti are required to go longer without water. One downfall about cacti is that they have shorter roots, so it’s more difficult for them to handle dryer soil. However, there are a few exceptions that can survive and thrive in an African desert.