The main difference between cactus and euphorbia is their thorns and flowers. Cactus thorns grow out of areoles, while euphorbia thorns grow directly from the stem. In addition, cactus flowers also grow out of areoles, are brightly colored, and have easily identifiable petals and stamens, whereas euphorbia flowers are highly modified, small, usually yellow in color, and do not have petals.
Cactus and euphorbia plants are often mistaken for each other. However, these are two distinct species, and there are several differences between them.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Cactus
– Definition, Features
2. What is Euphorbia
– Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Cactus and Euphorbia
– Comparison of Key Differences
What is Cactus
Cactus is a succulent plant having a thick fleshy stem that generally bears spines and lacks leaves. It’s a member of the plant family Cactaceae. Cacti is a popular plant, and there are many varieties of cacti. They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Most cacti live in arid habitats, even in extremely dry desserts. Since cacti have succulent plants, they have thick, fleshy parts that can store water.
Moreover, most species of cacti do not have true leaves. They have only spines, which are highly modified leaves. They prevent herbivores from feeding on the plant and reduce water loss by the stem. Spikes are also a distinctive characteristic of each cactus variety. Cacti plants also have a unique external structure known as areoles. They are visible on the surface of the plant and look like small dots. Cactus spines come out of these structures. Generally, areoles occur in a linear pattern all over the plant body.
What is Euphorbia
Euphorbia is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, commonly known as spurge. Some varieties of euphorbia are commercially widely available, and some are commonly cultivated as ornamental plants. They are valued for their unique floral structure and aesthetic appearance. Poinsettias that are popular at Christmas and crown of thorns are two euphorbia varieties.
Euphorbias are one of the largest genera of flowering plants, with more than 2000 members. It includes tiny plants to large trees. These plants have poisonous milky latex. Moreover, the head of flowers appears as a single flower. They possess a distinctive kind of pseudanthium. Individual flowers are either female or male. Moreover, euphorbia has no petals, or sepals are other components that are common in other plants. Furthermore, euphorbia from deserts areas has physical characteristics similar to cactus. This is why most of us find it difficult to identify euphorbia from cactus.
Difference Between Cactus and Euphorbia
Cactus is a succulent plant having a thick fleshy stem that generally bears spines and lacks leaves, while euphorbia is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, commonly known as spurge.
Presence of Areoles
Cactus plants have areoles all over the plant body, whereas euphorbia plants do not have areoles.
Moreover, cactus spines grow out of areoles, while euphorbia spikes appear to grow directly from the stem. In euphorbia, spikes typically occur in pairs.
In cactus plants, flowers grow out of areoles. They are like common garden flowers with petals and stamens that can be easily identified, and they are often larger and bright-colored. Euphorbia flowers, on the other hand, are highly modified and have a structure known as a cyathium. In addition, they are small and usually yellow in color, with no petals that are quite insignificant.
Cactus plants are usually leafless, whereas euphorbia plants have leaves.
Euphorbia plants have a thick, milky sap named latex, whereas cactus plants have a watery sap. Moreover, euphorbia sap is toxic or irritating, while cactus flowers rarely cause any irritations.
In conclusion, the main difference between cactus and euphorbia is their thorns and flowers. Cactus thorns grow out of areoles, while euphorbia thorns grow directly from the stem. In addition, cactus flowers also grow out of areoles, are brightly colored and have easily identifiable petals and stamens, whereas euphorbia flowers are highly modified, small, usually yellow in color, and do not have petals.
1. “What Is a Cactus Plant?” Succulent City, 28 Oct. 2021.
2. “Euphorbia Plant Care & Varieties.” GardenDesign.com, Garden Design Magazine, 12 Mar. 2019.
1. “Euphorbia ingens – Şamdan ağacı 2020-02-01 01” By Zeynel Cebeci – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Nature, cactus, plant, flower, green, botany, cacti, plants, caryophyllales, flowering plant, plant stem, land plant, hedgehog cactus, nopal, acanthocereus tetragonus, san pedro cactus” (CC0) via Pxhere
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