Cactus in New York City

January 16, 2005

Cactus_in_new_york_city copy

Provided by: Mark Heilbrunn, Frank Sinatra High School
Summary author: Mark Heilbrunn

How is the above prickly pear cactus able to survive in New York City? The soil in this location (Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge) is extremely sandy since it's the back part of a beach. Because the sandy soil is very permeable, most of the rainwater quickly disappears deep into the soil -- out of range of plants' roots. This creates desert-like conditions at the micro-scale, allowing cacti to survive. Prickly pear cactus in North America represents about a dozen species of the Opuntia genus (family Cactaceae).

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