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The Cactus Primer

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The Cactus Primer presents the amateur cactophile with an excellent introduction to cactus biology and provides the informed reader with an invaluable summary of the last forty years' research. This book goes far beyond books that instruct readers in the propagation, growth, and care of these plants; addressing matters of more scientific interest, it takes an integrated approach to the presentation of the form, physiology, evolution, and ecology of cacti. The book is unique in that it combines the descriptive ...

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Overview

The Cactus Primer presents the amateur cactophile with an excellent introduction to cactus biology and provides the informed reader with an invaluable summary of the last forty years' research. This book goes far beyond books that instruct readers in the propagation, growth, and care of these plants; addressing matters of more scientific interest, it takes an integrated approach to the presentation of the form, physiology, evolution, and ecology of cacti. The book is unique in that it combines the descriptive morphology and physiology documented in the scientific literature with more general observations found in popular publications on cacti. It provides a new generic classification of the cacti and contains much new information, including data on photosynthesis, heat and cold tolerance, computer modeling of ribs, and the effects of spines.

Enhanced by over 400 illustrations and supplemented with an extensive glossary, this book will appeal to cactus enthusiasts interested in the classification and growth of cacti, as well as to plant biologists who use cacti to illustrate desert adaptation and convergent evolution. Written in accessible style, The Cactus Primer is bound to serve a dual function as both an instructive tool and a reference work in cactus biology for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this beautifully written book the often ``boring'' topics of basic botany (e.g., gas exchange, plant form) are made exciting because they are presented in an integrated way, in the context of the real life dilemmas confronting cacti in their natural habitats. Topics include general features of cacti; features of primitive cacti; nature and function of areoles, spines, tubercles, and ribs; phyllotaxy and the Fibonacci sequence; factors affecting distribution and growth forms; chemicals special to cacti; and evolutionary relationships within Cactaceae, and with other plant families. Included is a new generic classification of the family. The book is well illustrated by black-and-white photographs, line drawings, and other figures. The authors are professors of biology at UCLA.Annette Aiello, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674089907
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1986
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 8.83 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Arthur C. Gibson is Professor of Biology, University of California at Los Angeles.

Park S. Nobel is Distinguished Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at the University of California at Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

The Cactus Plant

Diversity of Form

General Physiological Characteristics

Reproductive Structures

Classification

Selected Bibliography

Cacti with Primitive Features

Vegetative Structure of a Nonsucculent Pereskia

Organogenesis of the Shoot System

Reproductive Structures of Pereskia

Types of Leaf-Bearing Cacti

Selected Bibliography

Succulence

Anatomy of Stem Succulence in Cacti

Roots and Root Succulence

Significance of Succulence for Growth and Survival

Selected Bibliography

Gas Exchange and Crassulacean Acid

Metabolism

General Characteristics of Gas Exchange

Gas Exchange of Pereskia

Gas Exchange in Stem-Succulent Cacti

Selected Bibliography

Areoles and Spines

The Nature of Spines

The Nature of Trichomes

Possible Functions of Spines and Trichomes

Areoles and Flowers

Selected Bibliography

Tubercles and Ribs

Phyllotaxy and the Fihonacci Sequence

Development of Tubercles and Ribs

Adaptive Significance of Ribs

Cladodes

Selected Bibliography

Factors Affecting Distribution

Water

Low Temperature

High Temperature

Selected Bibliography

Growth Habits

Diversification of Growth Habits

Evolution of Wood Structure

Plant Form and Interception of Photosynthetically Active Radiation

Selected Bibliography

Special Chemicals

Betalain Pigments

Alkaloids

Triterpenes and Sterols

Mucilage and Latex

Protein Inclusions in Sieve-Tube Elements

Crystals

Elemental Analysis

Plant Defenses—An Overview

Selected Bibliography

Phylogeny and Speciation

Reconstructing Phylogenies

Phylogenetic Studies and the Classification of Cacti

Speciation, Hybridization, and Polyploidy

Selected Bibliography

Evolutionary Relationships

The Hypothetical Ancestor

Relatives

Biogeography

The Evolution of Cactus Characteristics—An Overview

Selected Bibliography

Glossary

Index

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