Can Cactus Move

To emphasize the beauty, diversity, and extraordinary qualities of our common planet Earth, One Earth’s “Creature of the Week series” features a relatively obscure and unique species every Wednesday.

If you came across a creeping monster in the desert, you could have thought someone had used a machete to cut through a field of cacti. No, instead of seeming like a thorny snakes’ nest, this unique variety of cactus rests horizontally on the ground in colonies with only its tip pointed upward toward the sun. The crawling devil may also move across the desert on its belly, somewhat like snakes.

The creeping devil, also known by its scientific name Stenocereus eruca, is the only known moving cactus in the world and is an endemic to the state of Baja California Sur in northwest Mexico. The plant’s prostrate position aids in both its ability to move across the desert for extended periods of time as well as its ability to survive in solitude. It accomplishes this by spreading out horizontally from its stem while also eliminating its tail. It develops new roots as it gently creeps across the desert floor in order to attach itself and to take in water and nutrients. The plant receives nutrients back through the roots as a result of its back end disintegrating and assimilating with the soil. The creeping demon must, in a sense, kill off a portion of itself in order to travel, but this dead portion then feeds the newly formed living portion.

The climate where a creeping devil grows determines the pace of growth and the speed at which it moves. It moves at a speed of two feet each year in its natural region, where the climate is humid and marine.

This cactus can reproduce sexually, but due to its isolation and the dearth of pollinators in its natural habitat, it can also do so by cloning individual sections of itself, which separate from their bases, die, and then grow into new plants on their own.

Unfortunately, this enigmatic and unusual cactus is officially listed as an endangered plant in Mexico, mostly because of illegal trade. Cactus collectors will spend a lot of money to include it in their personal succulent gardens due to its uniqueness. On the illegal market, a single creeping devil stem can fetch between $4000 and $5000.

However, the agricultural sector poses a threat to this amazing cactus as well. To make room for their grazing cattle, for which the creeping devil is both an annoyance and a barrier to grazing, farmers will decimate entire colonies.

Do cacti have legs?

The stem of the walking cactus will begin to take roots at its tip since it grows parallel to the earth. Its ancient body eventually dies once it is firmly embedded in the sandy soil. The old component will eventually degrade and decompose into nutrients that will help the new stem grow.

Over time, this technique causes the cactus to gradually “walk” through the desert. To put it another way, the cactus must perish in order to live. It’s so existential.

My cactus moves, but why?

Although cacti are low-maintenance plants that can withstand harsh circumstances, they are nonetheless susceptible to stress. Your succulent may droop or topple over as a clue that anything is amiss. Why does the plant lean, and how can it be fixed?

The tilting and tipping over of a cactus plant is an indication of overwatering, underwatering, pest damage, root rot disease, or an excessively large container. To remedy the succulent’s drooping issue, repot it in a new container with just 2 inches of space on the sides and water it until the top 2 inches of soil are dry.

Cactus can migrate to get water.

The uncommon capacity to crawl causes the creeping devil to lie prostrate on the ground. It accomplishes this by dying off its rear end while expanding horizontally on the leading end. In order to give the plant an anchor, as well as water and sustenance, as it slowly creeps across the desert floor, the bottom of the stem develops new roots on the growing end. The tail decomposes and ingests with the soil, converting into nutrients that are reabsorbed by the plant through its roots. Thus, the creeping demon cannibalizes its dead end in order to survive in addition to killing itself in order to move.

Why is it referred to as a jumping cactus?

The majority of the cactus in the Sonoran Desert are stunning to look at, but one variety can be dangerous to people if they come into contact with it.

It is the chain fruit cholla, sometimes referred to as the jumping cholla due its “jumping onto the skin or clothing of a bystander from a parent plant or the ground.

Of course, the barbed cactus spines don’t actually jump. But when individuals come too close, they quickly separate from the main plant and hook tenaciously, sometimes painfully.

“According to John Wiens of the botany section at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson, I don’t believe there is a person who enjoys being outside who hasn’t experienced that experience at least a few times.

Cacti leap out of pots, do they?

The colloquial name “jumping cholla cactus” (pronounced “KOY-ya”) is frequently used to refer to both Cylindropuntia bigelovii and Cylindropuntia fulgida. The former is known as Chain Fruit Cholla, while the latter is known as Teddy Bear Cholla. Both forms of the plant have joints that branch from the main trunk. Those joints fly off the plant and attach themselves to anything nearby with ease. The joints have sharp spines that stick to things like burrs. These cacti make great container plants if they are given the proper care.


You almost never see cactus with diverse colors since it is a universal truth. On the other hand, when a cactus starts to lose its original color, it’s probably because the plant is under a lot of pressure or stress.

The discoloration won’t appear in a single location; it all depends on where the issue is coming from.

Most often, the top end of the stem segments are where the discoloration first appears. In some, it starts at the plant’s base.

Keep in mind that extreme discolouration is bad for your plant, and if you do not respond quickly (as was discussed earlier), your plant will soon die.

The Plant Begins to Wobble

As you are already aware, the cactus plant has extremely strong roots that extend deep into the ground.

Even when there is a lot of wind, the plant doesn’t sway or move. The moment the plant begins to tremble, you should obviously take notice.

You need to be aware that the cactus often develops slowly. As a result, existing disorders won’t manifest their symptoms right away; they’ll need time to manifest.

There is a significant chance that the roots will have sustained too much damage to be saved by the time you actually notice the plant trembling.

Root rot, which typically happens when a plant receives too much water, is the cause of the plant’s wobbling. You must be aware that root rot is the leading cause of cactus plant demise.

Additionally, the plant will have a severe loss in firmness.

Soft Segments Begin to Appear

Another indication that your plant is dying is the appearance of mushy segments on various cactus components.

If you observe the plant losing its color, you might also want to look for soft spots because discoloration typically occurs along with them.

You should be aware that the parts are likely to be flimsy and will most likely break off when you exert just a little force.

You should attempt to slightly pull it on the spine to test it for yourself. You have a dying cactus on your hands if it feels like it will easily come off in your hands.

If the specialized leaves are simple to remove, the plant is dying and needs to be treated right away.


Last but not least, if your plant starts to lean, that is one of the telltale symptoms that it is dying. Keep in mind that leaning is different from bending, and you should seek for the latter.

The entire plant would likely be skewed toward one side, which is an obvious sign that the plant needs assistance.

Dying cactus frequently start to tremble in their pots, often giving the impression that the plant is about to tip over.

It starts to tilt to one side as a result of this, among other things. This is another indication that your plant needs proper care and lacks strong roots.

Your cactus could be dying for any number of reasons, but you should know that there is still time to save the plant.

You should be aware that, with a little work, you can actually save a dying cactus because the plant is highly resilient and capable of defending itself. Here are a few practical methods for achieving it.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

The cactus is credited with lowering stress levels because it lowers carbon dioxide levels, which are the main causes of agitation and anxiety. Additionally, having it around promotes relaxation, making it a fantastic addition to homes and offices.

Cactus and other plants also have a psychological effect on the patients, aiding in their quick recuperation.

Cleanses the Indoor Air

Cacti improve respiration by cleansing the air around them. All living things, even cactus, take up carbon dioxide and transform it into oxygen that we can breathe. In addition, cactus remove pollutants from interior air, improving the quality of the air within buildings.

You can cut the CO2 level in half by maintaining a ratio of 1 huge cactus for 2 persons.

Lowers Down Ambient Noises

The cause of decreased productivity and attention is background noise. Maintaining a cactus plant nearby can lower background noise by up to 3-5 dB.

Highly Adaptable Nature

Cacti can live everywhere and don’t even mind any negligence because of their sturdy, low-maintenance, and resiliency. Due to its shallow root system, it is the ideal specimen to flourish in various ways for aesthetic interest.

My cactus bends; why does it?

Excellent and resilient plants, cacti are rarely troubled by numerous problems. However, cactus may also cause you some problems. One of the problems is a cactus that is falling over or drooping. You can discover the causes of your cactus drooping or toppling over in this essay, along with solutions.

Weak roots or being potted in a container that is too big for the plant are a couple of the main causes of a cactus drooping or toppling over. Other causes might include bugs, lack of sunlight, underwatering, and more.

What occurs if a cactus cracks?

You can plant the broken portion of a cactus if it breaks off. Before planting the fractured piece in its own container, you must give it time to harden.

How can a cactus be made to stand up?

You may have planted your cactus too loosely in the soil if it is drooping from the ground. Additionally, it can indicate overwatering. We all know that before the next watering, the soil where the cactus is placed needs to be fully dry. Otherwise, the ground will get looser and the earth will begin to harden around the cactus’ base. Replanting a cactus in dry soil or adding more soil around the cactus’ base are two possible solutions to this issue. Additionally, you can encourage your cactus to grow upright by covering the soil’s surface with a coating of gravel or small rocks.

Where do cactus grow?

In the natural world, cactus seeds are dispersed by wind or rain or by animals that consume the cactus’ fruit. Cactus propagation, however, is not left to chance in your yard. Start with a pot filled with well-draining soil, such as potting soil made for cactus or topsoil blended with sand, for the best results. After scattering the cactus seeds over the soil, add a layer of sand no thicker than 1/8 inch. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and place it in a bright spot for two to 16 weeks, or until seedlings are visible, to maintain an even temperature and humidity during germination. While maintaining moisture in the soil, be careful not to overwater it.