Why does cactus have so many thorns or spines?

Most cactus species don’t have true leaves or branches. Instead, they have highly modified branches called areoles – the tiny bumps that spines grow from. The spines of a cactus are highly modified leaves.

Cactus plants have so many spines as they are various functions as they are found in the desert regions. The leaves of the plants are modified into spines. Hence there are so many spines or thorns on the cactus plant.

Functions of spines

The spines present on cactus perform the following functions

  • The spines prevent excess evaporation as water is rare to come by in a desert.
  • The spines also trap air that restricts airflow and prevents evaporation.
  • The spines collect dew from the early morning fog.  The collected dew is liquified into the water and drops to the ground below. This water is then absorbed by the plant.


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