A cactus (plural: cacti or cactuses) is any member of the plant family Cactaceae, native to the Americas (with one exception, Rhipsalis baccifera, which is native to parts of the Old World). They are often used as ornamental plants, and some are also crop plants for fodder, forage, fruits, cochineal, and other uses. Numerous species have been used since ancient times by indigenous peoples for their psychedelic effects. Cactuses are part of the plant order Caryophyllales, which also includes members like beets, gypsophila, spinach, amaranth, tumbleweeds, carnations, rhubarb, buckwheat, plumbago, bougainvillea, chickweed and knotgrass.
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Cacti are unusual and distinctive plants, which are adapted to extremely arid and/or semi-arid hot environments, as well as tropical environments as epiphytes or hemi-epiphytes. They show a wide range of anatomical and physiological features which conserve water. Their stems have adapted to become photosynthetic and succulent, while the leaves have become the spines for which cacti are well known.