The variety of nature
Nature is an extraordinary entity that managed to create everything we see around us and, but many people forget too quickly, including ourselves; everything that man boasts of creating, is in reality only built, or assembled, but the raw materials, bricks or pieces which make it possible to build everything, are all made by nature. It therefore stands out for an extraordinary variety of possibilities, since probably from the same primordial cell the sharks and the sheep, both the sequoia that reaches fifty meters in height and the slender orchid that we have in the dining room. Just focusing on the plant part of our planet, we see that there are really a lot of very different characteristics in it, which even makes us doubt that two completely different species are part of the same plant kingdom. The examples are too simple: let us take a lush plant, full of fragrant flowers and rich in color like the hydrangea, let us now compare it to a succulent plant, which has “learned” during an evolution of millions of years to minimize losses. the humidity due to the arid climate in which he lives: it’s extraordinary.
And the subject of this article is succulents, or rather an important species of this group – opuntia. Succulents are a branch of the plant world which brings together under this name all those plant species which by a very strong evolution have adapted to live in an arid and (most of the time) very hot climate. This extreme case has led, as the well-known proverb says, to “extreme remedies”, or extraordinary adaptations so as not to lose what is absolutely precious to a plant: water. Even if we don’t really talk about water for succulents, because in the desert there is no water and there is little to discuss; the speech is so extreme that we are actually talking about “humidity”
Opuntia is a succulent plant belonging to the well-known family of Cactaceae, commonly called “cactus”, which for everyone designates the plants of a desert environment. It is not a single species, but rather a genus that includes many different species, even quite similar in appearance to each other but with well-defined differences in the development of the leaves and in the flowers and the fruits. The opuntia is a plant that has several stems, which depending on the species can be flat or globose, and in both cases are called clathodes. Well, on them there are thorns, which are accompanied by small cylindrical leaves in quite rare cases; much more often the opuntia has flowers, which are solitary and in fact there is one per stem, exactly at its top. Flower types have various conformations, ranging from the normal shape with oval sepals to that of pointed and long petals, but all are characterized by very bright colors. Opuntia also produces fruits, which are born when the flower dries up and are characterized by a particular sweetness (they are used for jams and sweets), because they contain many very small seeds and because they are covered with thorns symmetrical which make handling very difficult. .
Opuntia: the prickly pear and other particularities
A plant that we know well also belongs to the genus opuntia, namely the prickly pear, which grows natively and independently in the Mediterranean basin and whose fruits (in slang called “figurines” but officially “prickly pears” like the mother plant itself) are very popular on our tables. This plant can also be quite large, reaching up to three or four meters in height, and with characteristic roots that spread horizontally rather than deep (desert moisture may remain on the surface, but it will never reach deeply the arid ground). . Opuntia has a name that derives from ancient Greek, and in fact Pliny the Elder talks about it, but in fact scientific studies have made it official that it is not the same plant, Also because it is currently very widespread and the one we are talking about is from South America. In these regions it is widespread and curiously, its leaves and fleshy stems are used to feed cows, pigs and other farm animals, while the fruits are widespread and appreciated like us, also because they contain vitamin C in considerable amounts. Their survival is guaranteed even in cold winter temperatures, as long as the water supply is completely cut off, while in summer it must be very regular but infrequent. also because they contain vitamin C in considerable amounts. Their survival is guaranteed even in cold winter temperatures, as long as the water supply is completely cut off, while in summer it must be very regular but infrequent. also because they contain vitamin C in considerable amounts. Their survival is guaranteed even in cold winter temperatures, as long as the water supply is completely cut off, while in summer it must be very regular but infrequent.