Dragonflame Cactus was first mentioned by name in Moon Rising, but first used in The Lost Heir. It grows only in high altitudes, in the mountains. When ignited, the cactus explodes and sends spiny seed pods everywhere. In a climate surrounded by fire-breathing SkyWings, this was a good adaption, as SkyWings tend to release fire quite often and Turtle described this as a "cool evolutionary trait."
The cactus itself is described as an odd-looking pink sphere with shades of brown and green. It's covered in spikes with roots visible on the bottom.
Dragonflame cactus pods are misshapen spheres about the size of a rainforest frog. They are covered with sharp, prickly thorns that cling to whatever they come in contact with and dig into it, like teeth. They are blackish-brown, with a bright green interior.
The cacti are described to be extremely hard to harvest in particular for SandWings, because of the heat that radiates from their scales which triggers the explosion.
Moon was hit with a seed pod of the dragonflame cactus in the explosion of the history cave. She and Turtle went into the lake at the bottom of Jade Mountain to wash her wounds. Turtle revealed that the SkyWings used the cacti as bombs in the attack of the Summer Palace. His mother, Queen Coral, tortured a SkyWing prisoner until he told her what the cacti was used for.
Moon eventually found out that Sora, a MudWing who was allied with the SkyWings, learned of these and rigged the history room of the Jade Mountain Academy with the cactus, in hopes of killing her roommate, Icicle. When ignited, the cactus exploded and killed two dragons, Bigtail and Carnelian, while seriously injuring Tamarin. Moonwatcher was also mildly injured on the shoulder. Sora claimed that they were, as a SkyWing general described, "collateral damage."
In the town of Possibility, Qibli's siblings, Sirocco and Rattlesnake are seen attempting to buy thirty of the cacti off of a red SkyWing, who exclaims how hard it is to harvest and does not give them as many cacti as they asked for. One of the SandWings kick a cactus towards Peril which explodes. Peril is the most affected from the explosion, but the thorns of the cacti were embedded into her scales are burned off from the heat emitted by Peril's scales. Peril describes the sensation of as "tiny teeth eating under her scales."
In the epilogue, it was said that three different cacti were set off to go and exactly the same time in three seperate locations, and that dragons in black hoods wearing medallions stamped with a bird were seen fleeing the scene. It is likely Sirocco and Rattlesnake were among these dragons, as they bought lots of dragonflame cacti in Possibility in book 8 (Escaping Peril).
- The manner in which the cacti explode makes them a cluster bomb.
- The cacti are similar to certain pines which have their seeds are stored in closed ("serotinous") cones for many years until an environmental cue triggers the cones to open, releasing the seeds. The most common form of serotiny is pyriscence, in which a resin binds the cones shut until melted by a forest fire. This leaves the seeds to be nurtured by a resurfacing environment.
- The cacti is a green-pink-brown color.