One species of cacti - prickly - depicted on the Mexican coat of arms.According to legend, the Aztecs, tired of wandering in the mountains, once settled on the shores of Lake Texcoco.On a small island, they saw an eagle sitting on a prickly pear, tearing a snake.They thought it was a good omen and founded the city of Tenochtitlan ( "sacred place of the prickly pear ') in the vicinity of the place.Now it is the capital of Mexico, Mexico City.
Succulents - true children of the desert, but not only, they are often found in the mountains.This plant, all devices are aimed at counteracting the adverse conditions of hot, poor moisture and nutrients seats.By succulents include perennials capable of storing water reserves in the leaves or stems (succulents name comes from the Latin succus - «juice");their vodozapasayuschie tissue fleshy, succulent, elevated bodies are covered with thick skin (containing a large number of special wax-like substance - Kutin), the stomata, through which the evaporation of w
different origin succulents causes the difference in the conditions of their detention.However, the main common features of all succulents are saved: they do not need frequent watering (many kept almost complete soil drying), and in a certain period (different in different species) watering altogether should negate used for irrigation water should be softand have a slightly acidic reaction, all - light-requiring, require loose substrate with a high content of coarse sand and gravel with a thick drainage layer required.The combination of wet and cold for them fatal.
Cacti - natives of the desert regions of northwest Mexico and the United States Southwest.But for quite some time they have become a familiar part of the European Mediterranean landscapes.It is believed that the first copies of spiny monsters appeared in the Old World due to the Spanish conquerors of the Americas at the end of the XVII century.Very quickly, the plant spread throughout the Mediterranean coast.In Russia, cacti emerged as overseas gimmick under Peter I in St. Petersburg botanical garden on the island of Apothecary.
For most Europeans, the cacti are still only original element phyto or subject prestigious hobbies.But the Mexican Indians, probably, could say: "Cactus - is everything!" So far, as in the old days, the cactus juice is used to quench the thirst of travelers, farmers and herdsmen.And, of course, cacti - a good fodder for livestock.
Cacti were planted near homes to protect themselves from evil spirits and create a strong hedges and fences.From the wood of some species of cacti make exquisite jewelry, souvenirs.They are also for the manufacture of paper, rope, door and window frames.Cacti - a beautiful ornamental plant.At the beginning of the XIX century in many countries was widespread koshenilny cactus (nopaleya koshenilenosnaya), which bred aphid "cochineal" in large numbers.From the dried insect resistant received scarlet dye for fabrics, as well as food coloring for butter and cheese.
Where cacti were always "indigenous people", they ate, and these traditions still persist.Eat their stems, fruits and seeds.Some fruits have the taste and aroma of melon, pineapple, strawberries ... The most common culinary raw materials - this is probably the cactus.Its juicy fruit eaten raw or cook them jam, marmalade, candied fruit;not yet ripe fruit stewed with meat, baked lepeshkovidnye stalks.Fresh shoots of many prickly pear put (after removing the thorns) in salads.And in those countries where the cactus appeared as a guest overseas, estimated its gastronomic quality;now it is familiar dish on the menu of Italian restaurants and the usual items on the eastern markets.
As houseplants we should be especially grateful cacti for their unique ability: they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night, while most of the remaining plants saturate the air with oxygen only during the day.
In ancient Greece, the word "kaktos" is any prickly plant.Only in the XIII century, Carl Linnaeus allocated a separate genus Cactus and used for its name to the Greek word for its flora classification.
The family Cactaceae include plants with woolly areoles on the tubercles-stalk on which are placed the needle, flowers and fruits.The family, in turn, is divided into three subfamilies: opuntsevye, pereskievye and cactus (in our country the last subfamily is called tsereusovye).Plants of each of these botanical communities are very distinctive, expressive form.
Opuntsevye different jointed succulent stems and very small leaves beschereshkovymi.these leaves appear on young segments and in most species will soon fall off.Seeds are mostly large, thick, lignified, hard as stone, shell.The distinguishing feature of this subfamily - Stock glochidia areolas.This small, very thin bristles with small indent, they are easily separated when touched, stuck into the skin.To delete them, the American Indians since time immemorial used melted wax.In the frozen state, it is easily separated from the skin along with glochidia.
Feature pereskievyh - leathery leaves sitting on stalks.The stems of these plants lignified, without the expressed succulent characteristics (ability to retain, store moisture).Seeds are large, shiny black.
subfamily cactus plants combines with typical succulent, often jointed stems of different shapes: round, stolbovid-WIDE, ribbed, papillary, etc. Leaves and gloh-DII these plants are absent...Brambles (if any) are placed on the areolas in a strictly defined for each order and quantity.The shell of seeds hard, but fragile.
In nature, found about 3 thousand species of cacti.The world's smallest cacti blossfel DII-fit in a teaspoon, the biggest - Garnegiea gigantea and Brasiliopuntia brasiliensis - reach a height of 20 meters!
In tropical America occurs in wild state famous cactus selenitsere-us (Common names - the queen of the night cactus snake).It is available in all major botanical gardens of both hemispheres, since before the Revolution and settled in the greenhouse of the Botanical Garden
Petersburg.His name is obliged to the queen of the night that reveals the flowers only once a year, at 9-10 pm, in order to close them all in 2-3 hours of the night.With the help of aerial roots of this plant is climbing on the rocks and walls where abundant branches, giving a fairly thin, often curved lateral branches with 4-8 longitudinal ribs.Flowers - with a strong smell of vanilla, have a length of 18-25 cm, and revealing, reach a diameter of 15-27 cm;they are outside the brown-yellow, and inside - light yellow and white.The petals surround a bundle of filamentary anthers.The ribs of stems of 6-8 tufts seated long (up to 2 mm) of studs, which are located at a distance of about 2 cm from each other.
For all the variety of cacti share one very important feature.Cacti as aloes and other succulents - champions in the accumulation of moisture and the ability to spend it slowly.The water content of the stem can reach 90-95%.These plants have learned to extract moisture from the fogs of winter, or even falling on the heavy morning grew.Known for its large size can-delyabrovye cacti (they are called "Candles Arizona") for the 300 years of life is produced in this way up to 10 tons of water.Some giant spherical Echinocactus weigh 1-2 tons.Once exhausted the transition in the desert travelers quenched their thirst for their juicy flesh.The spines of the cactus - it is their leaves.The role of the leaves, which absorb carbon dioxide, perform the stems.The stems are covered with thick and dense skin with a small number of stomata, which are almost always closed.Under the skin, and the green layer is colorless fabric with large cells filled with water and mucus.
roots are widely distributed in the surface layer of the earth is rapidly absorbed water during the rains.With the onset of the dry time, dry out, but thicker roots remain alive, t. To. Waterproof coated stopper.
healing properties of cactus
Modern scientists have only just carried out the study of medicinal properties of cactus, and traditional healers treat them for many centuries.
Mexican Indians dried stalks "solder tree" (as they called one of the species of prickly pear), ground into powder and sprinkled their wounds.There were the same, and fleshy roots of Opuntia - they treat bone fractures.From the stems of the prickly pear powder, feathers (probably for strength) was kneaded with sticky juice particular plant mass, which is used instead of plaster to fix broken bones.Cut lengthwise and steaming hot water "cake" Opuntia used for poultices for skin diseases and pains in muscles and joints.Traditionally cactus treat intestinal and respiratory diseases, pneumonia and tuberculosis, snake bites and scorpion stopped bleeding.craniotomy -
During the archaeological excavations in the settlements of the ancient Incas several skulls, which were traces of a complex operation have been found.Parts of the cranial boxes were replaced with gold plates, which were overgrown bone.This means that after surgery patients survived for many years.How could the ancient surgeons to carry out such a complex operation many hours without modern anesthesia?Most likely, the anesthesia was carried out using a special juice of cactus-peyote, about them, we can still talk.
stem juice cactus Selenicereus grandiflorus (grandiflorus) was used in the treatment of rheumatism - they rubbed the sore spot.German homeopaths nowadays in huge quantities used for production of the Cereus medicinal tinctures.He was even specially cultivated for this purpose in the greenhouse - a homeopathic tincture are made only from freshly harvested stalks and flowers.Cactus homeopathic remedy is very popular in Germany - it is used when the heart muscle weakness, neuroses of the heart, feeling of pressure in the heart and angina.There is information about its application in disorders of digestion with flatulence and pain in the stomach and intestines, as well as painful menstruation.
In some countries, cacti drugs recommended not only the people healers and homeopaths, but also representatives of official medicine.Means of these plants include, for example, in British Pharmacopoeia state.And yet still the medicinal properties of cactus have not been studied and is not explained in the present.For example, it remains a mystery why the juice of the prickly pear ordinary (Opuntia vulgaris) exhibits astringent for intestinal disorders.It is noted that some fresh juice of cactus relieves fatigue, invigorates, strengthens and tones, improves metabolism, but what kind of biologically active substances provide this effect?British pharmacologists indicate Antihemorrhagic (haemostatic) effect of Opuntia preparations and encourages them to treat hell-noma (swelling) of the prostate.Opuntia able to reduce the level of lipids (fats) in the blood sugar content and even that allows its use in the treatment of diabetes.Slimy juice of certain types of prickly pears helps with diseases of the liver, and the extract of the roots of the prickly pear has diuretic properties.Israeli scientists have found that the biologically active substances Opuntia flowers exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-edema effect, and they are effective for urinary incontinence, frequent urination, inflammation of the urinary system.However, they also activate the immune and hormonal systems.The fruits of many species of prickly pear also have a diuretic effect.
The official medicine today cactus is also used in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, neuralgic pains.For example, alcoholic or aqueous extract of petals and stems selenitsereusa (a drug called "golden drops") treat hypotension and other heart disease and blood vessels.
should also talk about the cactus « peyotl » (scientific name peyote, Lophophora mlliamsii), which has recently become a subject of intense study for many researchers.In fact, its properties have been known to the Indians since time immemorial.Priests and magicians use his hallucinogenic and narcotic effect for various rituals and religious ceremonies.This plant contains a special ingredient - the alkaloid mescaline, capable to cause visual and auditory hallucinations.It was discovered in the late XIX century chemist Arthur Heffner, but studied so far.In the United States working on this a scientific research institute, named after Heffner, though he was not funded by the state and individuals and foundations.In lophophore currently found neither more nor less - 70 kinds of alkaloids!The attention of psychiatrists and psychotherapists still attracts mescaline - as a possible remedy for the treatment of mental disorders: such as for example various obsessive-compulsive disorder (obsessions), depression, various phobias (fears) and an irresistible attraction, including alcohol and drugs.
In connection with the spread of drug abuse in the United States is prohibited peyote grow, buy and sell.In our country, such a decision was made a few years ago.Still lophophore ever be "rehabilitated".It can be a helper, not only psychiatrists, but also neurologists.It was found that the peyote drugs reduce the excitability threshold of the peripheral nervous system and, on the contrary, stimulate the central nervous system.
addition psychotropic she discovered antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and tonic properties.Biologically active substances of this cactus stimulate tissue regeneration.Therefore Lophophora can be used, according to some sources, to treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, to enhance the rate of granulation tissue and healing of various wounds and inflammation, smooth muscle relaxation.