Bristles of the cactus, Opuntia

Bristles of the cactus, Opuntia

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Caption: Macrophotograph of the cactus Opuntia microdasys, showing the bristles, or glochids, on the surface of the stem. Bristles & sturdier spines develop from the stem buds, which in cacti are paired; the lower bud forms the spine, the upper one the branches or flowers. The upper bud may be protected by fine bristles (here). The bristles are barbed while the body is spirally structured for rigidity. They slide in easily, withdraw painfully, or break in the skin. Spines & bristles protect the plant from grazing animals, an important function in their native arid habitat. They also protect the stem from intense sunlight. Magnification: X1.4 (at 35mm size).

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Keywords: botany, bristle, cactus, glochid, nature, opuntia microdasys, plant, plants

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