You'll Find Cactus on Sunny Side of the Street

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 15, 2004 | Go to article overview

You'll Find Cactus on Sunny Side of the Street


Byline: J. Hope Babowice

You wanted to know

Kyle Olsen, 8, of Vernon Hills wanted to know:

How can you tell how old a cactus is? Why do they only grow on one side of the highway?

If you have a question you'd like Kids Ink to answer, write Kids Ink, care of the Daily Herald, 50 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 104, Vernon Hills, IL 60061 or send an e-mail to lake@@dailyherald.com. Along with the question, include your name, age, phone number, hometown, grade and school.

For more information

To learn more, the Cook Memorial Library in Libertyville suggests the following.

- "Cactus Poems" by Frank Asch

- "Saguaro Cactus" by Paul Fleisher

- "Cactuses" by Allan Fowler

- "A Saguaro Cactus" by Jen Green

- "Clementina's Cactus" by Ezra Jack Keats

- "Cactus" by Peter Murray

- "Cactus Cafe: a Story of the Sonoran Desert" by Kathleen Zoehfeld

"How can you tell how old a cactus is?" asked Kyle Olsen, 8, a second-grader at Hawthorn Option School in Vernon Hills. He added, "Why do they only grow on one side of the highway?"

There are more than 1,500 species of cactus, a waxy, often leafless plant that grows mostly in very hot and sunny climates. Cactus plants are quite good at storing water, because they usually thrive in deserts, where there's little rainfall and very poor soil conditions.

Most cactus have large, colorful flowers in the spring. Many have sharp needles. Some are very small, like the mammillaria, which barely rises above ground level. Some top out at 50 feet, like the Saguaro.

"There are prickly pear in every state in the Union except Hawaii and Alaska," said David Eppele, director of the Cactus Garden in Brisbee, Arizona. …

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