May 17, 2016
- cactus (noun)
- What does it mean?
- : any of a large family of flowering plants able to live in dry regions and having fleshy stems and branches that bear scales or prickles instead of leaves
- How do you use it?
- "The land was dry and the panorama was barren except for date palms, cactus, and an occasional squirrel or roadrunner." (Pam Muñoz Ryan, _Esperanza Rising_)
- Are you a word wiz?
How do you think the cactus got its name?In the mid 18th century, a Swedish naturalist named Carolus Linnaeus devised a system for naming different species of plants and animals. His system is called the Linnaean system of binomial nomenclature and it is still in use today. Linnaeus adopted the word "cactus" from Latin as the name for the family of fleshy plants with prickles or scales. "Cactus" traces ultimately to the Greek word "kaktos". Both the Latin and Greek terms named a plant called a cardoon which has small spines and is a relative of the artichoke but is not related to cactuses.