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the cactus is a plant family member and the word cactus has been derived from the ancient Greek kaktos which means a spiny plant unknown with its identity.. cactus are native to America from south of Patagonia to Canada in north...except Rhipsalis Baccifera which also grown in Africa and Sri Lanka...
Wow.. Didn't know that
The rhipsalis is native to south america as well but migratory birds have spread it through out the tropics. It is theorised that the evolution of cacti stared when the ancient super continent gondwala split to form African and America with the gradual continental drift causing them the diversify with the changing climate. It is thought the earliest ancestors to cacti resemble the pereskia cacti of today. Although a lot of this is theory is based on phenotypic data and limited genetic studies, there is no fossil record of any cacti.