from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A genus of cacti of the tribe Opuntie√¶.
  • n. It is characterized by small flat flowers, six to ten spreading oblong petals, a cylindrical, angled, and dilated stem, and a smooth ovary bearing in fruit a smooth pea-like berry containing somewhat pear-shaped seeds. There are about 30 species, natives of tropical America, with one in South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Ceylon, the only cactus native to those regions. They are unlike any other cactus genus in their great variety of form and habit of stems, some resembling mistletoe, some the marsh-samphire, some the ice-plant, others the Epiphyllum, etc. They are fleshy shrubs with a woody axis, jointed branches, and lateral flowers, which project from notches on the edges of the flat-branched species. Their leaves are reduced to minute scales, which appear at the notches, mixed with wool and stiff needles. Most of the species are epiphytes, pendent from the branches of trees, often for many feet; whence sometimes called mistletoe-cactus, some species also having white berries. Also called willow-cactus, in conformity with the genus name. In cultivation they are reared in pots and baskets.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. large genus of epiphytic or lithophytic unarmed cacti with usually segmented stems and pendulous branches; flowers are small followed by berrylike fruits


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