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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Cacti vs Cactuar. and cactite too.

As someone with an interest in cacti, I've often wondered what would be the closest, species wise, a Cactuar would come to being part of a real life Cactus species.

For starters no cacti have the extreme manouverability of a regular Cactuar. A lack of legs puts pay to the whole running away when things go wrong, though it would be useful especially as a seed dispersal mechanism. Although their back story is never really fleshed out, (except in X and X2 where they had their own village and given names,) so maybe this is how they reproduce. They certainly display some wanderlust ranging over the whole of spira.
More about names later.

The second thing anyone knows about Cactuar is that they have an attack, a retaliation if you will called 1000 needles (or Blowfish for the especially pedantic). It deals 1000 damage to any attacker, regardless of defence and is often enough to kill. Full grown Cactuar (Called Jumbo Cactuar) can deal 10,000 damage easily before running away never to be seen again. It also has some basis in reality. Most cacti spines are arranged around a prominent central spine with a small ring of lesser spines. This in turn rests on a cushion called an areole and is the absolute basis of all cactus morphology, whether they have leaves as well as spines (Pereskia, Maihuenopsis) no spines at all (Lophophora, Ariocarpus) or wool on the main body, (Espostoa, Oreocereus).

One genus does things differently, Opuntia (and its offshoots) have spines and areoles like normal cacti, but unlike the rest of Cactaceae, they are special Spines called glochids, which not only detach but are barbed as well.

Behaving like Cactuar spines - coming loose at the slightest touch, ranging from the slightly annoying dust like spines of some Prickly pears to the absolute evil swines contained by species of Cylindropuntia (Cholla). They are also pretty weak in their composition, most Cholla will happily leave an arm behind along with a full complement of debilitating spines leading it to eventually drop off elsewhere to germinate, so perhaps Cactuar are distant relatives of Cholla. Certainly they can become large plants so this would account for Jumbo Cactuar as well.

They tend to have large fruit and big flowers with sensitive stamens, we never really see a cactuar in flower but I'll make an educated guess that they'll either be red, yellow or orange with sensitive stamens, fruit will be either sterile and form chains or viable and fleshy, both will be intensly spined.

Names and naming

In irony, I always imagined Cactuar as a type of Consolea, but due to the above factors, its probably a Cylindropuntia (note that the fruit chains resemble the arms in the above image).
We'll provisionally entitle it *Cylindropuntia Square-enixensis.

As mentioned above, the Cactuar were actually named in FFX2 where they had their own reservation style village in Bikanel Desert. Headed up by a matriarch called Marnela (Possibly Marniera an old name for some species of Epiphyllum.) who tasked you to track down 10 gatekeepers for not much of a reward. They're named after mainly defunct genuses of cacti. List follows with info on each and others.

1. Lobivia, now part of Echinopsis, really lovely plants with showy flowers.
2. Toumeya. Small clumping genus, resurrected from Turbinicarpus.
3. Lobeira. Like Marnela another Epiphytic cactus this time subsumed into Disocactus.
4. Areq and Arroja. Species Arequipa (now a form of Cleistocactus) and Arrojadoa.
5. Islaya. Small yellow flowered plant now lumped in with Eriosyce.
6. Chiapa. Chiapasia in fact, like Lobeira above is part Disocactus too (it looked like an Xmas Cactus)
7. Erio. Could either be Eriocereus (an old name for Notocactus before they became Parodia) or Eriosyce. See Islaya above.
8. 'Bartschalla' Bartschella as it should be called is now part of Mammilaria, a large genus of plants.
9. Finally Frailea. Who still exist: and are known for their flowers which rarely open.

Cactite bonus.

*Soehrensia Estersandensis.

In FFXII Cactite's took up Cactuars mantle instead of Cactuar, they pose little or no threat to you, and if you did battle them would wander benignly through the landscape. Although also known as Cactoid (complete with red flowers) its really not the same league as a cactuar, and if truth be told would actually fit in with something like a Soehrensia or big Lobivia as its real world equivalent. For completion's sake, the Dynast Cactus from the Westersand, would, scaled down be a dead ringer for Astrophytum Capricorne.

* Names proposed for the species but not actually valid.

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