Deserts cover one-fifth of the earth’s land surfaces, but only the Americas have cacti. The southwestern U.S. alone has more than 2,000 varieties of cactus.
What design would you put into a desert plant for it to hold onto its water?
Cacti open their tiny pores (stomata) to take in carbon dioxide during the night, which is the opposite of most plants; they open their stomata during the daylight hours because this is when photosynthesis takes place and the carbon dioxide is needed at that time.
If the cacti were to open their pores during the day, precious water would evaporate. Losing water is not good in the desert! Cacti are designed so that during the night, stomata open up and carbon dioxide is collected and stored. During the day, the stomata close, and the previously stored carbon dioxide is used for photosynthesis. Cacti are unique in this reversed process that help them survive in the desert.
More Ingenious Designs to Enable Them to Survive:
- Cacti are like sponges, so when it does rain, they collect as much water as possible. The body of the cactus acts as a reservoir, storing water. As needed, the entire cactus can actually expand its diameter.
Can trees swell their trunks as they gather water, and then shrink their girth as they use the water?
A mature saguaro can absorb 200 gallons from one rainstorm.
- The outer part of the cactus is waxy, which helps retain moisture and reflect the heat of the sun away.
- Pointy spines or “cactus needles” stop thirsty animals from getting a free drink.
Evolutionary scientists teach that cacti evolved these features over eons of time. Yet thousands of specific programming changes would be needed to allow some sort of “pre-cactus” to survive in the desert.
- What if stomata were open during the day, like other plants? The cacti would most likely wither away and die.
What if it did not have the unusual feature of its stem expanding to hold water? An extended dry spell would kill all the cacti.
What if there were no spines? Animals would eat the cacti for their water.
These are just a few of the design issues that God had to think about so that cacti could survive and thrive in a harsh desert environment. Cacti show the handiwork of the great Creator!