They are fleshy shrubs, with rounded, woody stems, and numerous succulent branches, composed in most of the species of separate joints or parts, which are much compressed, often elliptic or suborbicular, dotted over in spiral lines with small, fleshy, caducous leaves, in the axils of which are placed the areoles or tufts of barbed or hooked spines of two forms. The flowers are mostly yellow or reddish-yellow, and are succeeded by pear-shaped or egg-shaped fruits, having a broad scar at the top, furnished on their soft, fleshy rind with tufts of small spines.
When this attachment takes place by an articulation, the petals fall off either immediately after expansion (caducous) or after fertilization (deciduous).
The calyx sometimes falls off before the flower expands, as in poppies, and is caducous (fig.
- Caducous calyx (c) of Poppy.
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