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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gymnocalycium mostii ssp.ferocior

Gymnocalycium mostii ssp.ferocior comes from Argentina's Le Rioja province. This is a small and slow growing plant, armed - or decorated, if you like - with thick ash-white spines. The little "egg in the basket" pictured here is of cause a flower bud. All Gymnocalycim flowers have these very recognizable scales on their buds and flower tube, and flower usually from the stem apex or near it.
The younger spines of cacti have that wet-glassy look as in the picture. Here they are also green and yellow-brown colored. Once fully developed the spines will become bone-white, turning ash-gray with age. Cactus spines considered to be from the plant anatomy view point bud scales, heavily meta-morphed. Like human hair, they grow from the bottom, not from the tip. Like on animal horns, you often can see growth rings on cactus spines.

Echinocereus pacificus

Echinocereus pacificus is native of N.Baja California. It is a small-stemmed clumping plant with smaller flowers resembling those of closely related E. coccinneus, but more colorful. Unlike dioious E. coccineus , E. pacificus produces 'perfect', e.i. bi-sexual flowers, with both stamens and pistil fully functional, and each plant capable of producing seeds.
This species was first described by George Engelmann, some 150 years ago, but still not very common among amateurs, more often seen in specialized collections.
As other Echinocerei E. pacificus plants are easy in cultivation. They require plenty of sunlight and early spring watering for successful flowering.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Opuntia basilaris 'whitneyana'

I'm using name Opuntia whitneyana here for the plants that were described by E.M.Baxter in his 1935 book "California Cactus" as growing in Alabama hills area in Owens valley. The pictured pad is of a plant from northernmost known locality of O. whitneyana, where they grow on volcanic pumice, and differ from the more common form by brown color of glochids.
In cultivation, if grown protected from rain, these plants develop white waxy coating on younger cladodes (pads), getting even more unusual and decorative appearance. Plants bloom with silky light-pink flowers, somewhat different in shape than flowers of common O. basilars. Overall it is a nice if a bit large for pot culture plant, virtually nonexistent in cultivation.
The little droplets hanging of areoles is sugary secretion that is produced to attract ants, as a protection against pests.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Echinocereus pentalophus

Echinocereus pentalophus is not very attractive plant, with very modest looking crawling stems. When it is in flower  everything changes - it becomes the biggest attraction in the collection. The flowers are large and fragrant, older plants tend to be completely hidden under that fireworks of color. Flowers last for the whole week, and plan often stay in bloom for as long as full months.
There are several forms of this species in cultivation. Plants from Texas have finger-thin spreading stems, the most distinct form from Mexico - AKA E. leonensis - has erect stems about one inch thick.
Plants are easy in cultivation and moderately frost hardy. Also reliable bloomers, provided they receive lots of sunlight.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mammillaria yaquensis

Mammillaria thornberi v yacuensis native ti west of Sonora state. It forms loose clumps of pencil thin stems, dark brown in color if grows on full sun. It is easy in cultivation but not very common plant, with peculiar look and nice flowers.
The flowers with long stigma lobes a very characteristic to the group of western Mammillarias. Genetic studies has shown that this group has somewhat remote relation  to other plants in the genus and may some time later be taxonomically separated from it

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lobivia tiegeliana v. pusilla

Libivia tiegeliana 'pusilla' as well as many other Lobivias are native to Bolivia, as one can guess from the genus name. All Lobivias are compact plants, free blooming with showy flowers and hence very popular in cultivation. 
Lobivia tiegeliana 'pusilla' is one of the smaller plants in the genus, low-growing with fleshy roots. In nature plants usually grow flat with the ground most of the year, contracting under the soil to endure drought periods. In culture plants grow larger forming depressed round stems. Mature plants produce several waves of  blooms over the season. Flowers are pink, red, purple or white.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Echinocactus polycephalus

Echinocactus polycephalus is a cactus symbol of Mojave desert. The very hansom plants occur in the driest places, where summers are oven hot and winters bring frost every night for several months. All the years water supply plants acquire during the pleasant time of early spring when soil is still wet from winter rains and temperatures are high enough for plants metabolism to go active. The plants will not bloom in the spring though, waiting for dead heat of August to open their modest yellow flowers.
Echinocactus polycephalus is very slow growing plant, which is unusual for cacti that large. They are also very rarely seen in cultivation. Rising nice specimen like this from seed would take longer than life time.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pediocactus simpsonii

Pediocactus simpsonii AKA Mountain Top Cactus is spread over hills and mountain areas of Central and Northern-Western US, growing in the places where winter snow is a norm. The plant on the picture was probably covered with snow not more than a month before. Couple miles from this spot snow was still laying solid on the ground.
The plants are frost tolerant, and the growth season is limited to spring only, when water supply from snow melt is guaranteed. In culture plants grow happily in humus-free substrate, and the requirement is to keep them wet for couple spring months. Watering in the summer makes no effect on plants, except may be late summer-early spring when plants may respond to it again. To see flowers in cultivation plants better be kept out of the heat of greenhouse. Too much daytime heat in the spring makes them abort flower development, but night frost is just fine.
Picture is taken in Grand Basin NP, NV

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa

Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa AKA buckhorn cholla is not exactly a pretty plant. It grows as a large thorny  bush with loose branches, stem segments sticking out in random order, and common in southern and central AZ deserts. Flowers are very bright, and range from yellow through orange to vine-red in color. Plants with different flower colors usually grow next to each other.
Note that this pictured flower is horizontally asymmetrical in shape. The upper petals (not 'true' petals from the plant morphology perspective of cause, more like meta-morphed leaves) are fully open, but lower ones are half-open, forming a cup shape. Flowers that occur at stem tips and look more upward are usually fully open and perfectly funnel shaped.
That cup shaped flower bottom is to keep the pollen that falls of the anther, inside the flower. Cacti as many arid land plants produce relatively small amount of pollen, and they sure benefit from such pollen-saving features. Many Opuntoides have such flower shape adaptations, as well as some Echinocerei.
Picture is taken near Wickenburg, AZ

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sulcorebutia flavissima

 is a larger growing Sulcorebutia. The plant originates from Bolivian Andes.
Easy in cultivation, produces nice pink blooms in early summer.
This plant I got about 10 years back  from Miles Anderson of, the most reliable source of great quality cactus plants here in US.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rebutia pygmaea

 Rebutia pygmaea is a variable species of Argentinian plants. Small and relatively slow plants show broad range of bloom colors in the spring and early summer. Some forms ready to bloom repeatedly over the warm period.

Rebutia pygmaea 'friedrichiana'

Rebutia pygmaea 'diersiana'

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Echinocereus schmollii

Echinocereus schmollii used to be considered difficult and somewhat rare in cultivation. Plants have thin stems, bulb for root and nice flowers. This plant grows in the wild with the support of the host bush branches. Pencil thin stem tend to snake around when plant is cultivated, if not supported with sticks.
Showy pink flowers are easily produced, usually several waves of blooms over the summer.
Generic name Echinocereus tokened by George Engelmann, american cactus student of 1800-s. His "Cactaceae of the border" is a remarkable work, full of impressive artworks of the plants featured.
The name Echinocereus comes from Greek word echinos for hedgehog and Latin Cereus for wax or candle. Genus Cereus at the time had all tall candle or pillar-like plants. With the hedgehog part in the name Engelmann was referring to spiny flower bud (and fruit) clearly seen at the picture, to segregate plants in the genus from those with naked or spineless flower, like in modern genus Cereus proper.
Echinocereus schmollii was originality  named and for the long time called Wilcoxia schmollii. The genus Wilcoxia was created for several similar-looking plants, all with thin stems. Now those plants are merged to the Echinocereus genus, based on obvious similarities in reproductive organs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cylindropuntia ramoissima

This flower belongs to a very common plant from CA, AZ and southern NV deserts  - Cylindropunta ramoissima.
It is rarely seen in cultivation, but doing well in my greenhouse. Flowers are small and of unusual copper color.
Cactus flower is technically speaking not a 'true' flower but a sprout, that is a stem. With opuntoides it often goes to the extreme. Flower buds at early stage are hard or impossible to distinguish from new clatoides growing, and developed flower or even fruit may continue its life as a stem.
With C.ramoissima flower buds look like stems for long time, and may be they are just that - stems, until at some magic moment plant turns them into buds?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hello World

This blog I intend to use as a primary reference for my pics that I post in different forums. 
The pics of cacti that is. I've been growing cacti on and off for almost as long as I remember myself, and been teaching myself photography for some time.
Here I hope to show you by means of that newly acquired art what keeps driving me towards these marvelous spiny creatures.