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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Echinocereus coccinneus hybrid 2

Here is another Echinocereus hybrid. One parent is definitely has coccinneus line in it, as you can see by a flower shape. It is also clearly dioious-female plant with no pollen produced. Cross-pollination with the white hybrid resulted in a fruit with lots of seed.
I do not know what species were crossed to make this hybrid, as I bought it as a plant. In any case, I'm curious to see the flowers of the next generation of plants.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Echinocereus coccinneus hybrid

This is another type of hybrid - Echinocereus. Echinocereuc coccinneus is a tetraploid, same as Echinocereus dasiacanthus.. In the wild they do grow together, but blooming time is different. It does not always prevent these two species from forming the natural hybrids that are not only vital but also fertile. Hybrids also can be coccinneus-like and dasyacanthus-like, and blooming time for those differs by couple weeks, coccinneus-like  blooming in April and dasiacanthus-like in May-June.
This plant is a coccinneus-like hybrid of a natural origin, with larger stem and larger flower, and shape of the stem and flower are reminiscent of  E.coccinneus. Flower is almost white, with a bit of green in the throat, and slight yellow tint.
E. coccinneus always have red flowers and E. dasyacanthus flowers are always yellow. But cross with these two produces a full rainbow of colors, with orange, pink, white, salmon or bi-colored flowers.
E. coccinneus is also dioious species in most populations, and this hybrid is a male plant, never forming a fruit.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Echinopsis hybrid

This unnamed hybrid is a cross between two garden center plants, one red and one yellow-flowering.
Orange with reddish tips petals would be a nice feature by itself, but apart from it the flower came up with this very unusual shape/ It is fully developed in the picture, and somewhat chrysanthemum-like. Flower is about 4-5inches across. The plant is not yet fully grown, and there is a chance the new flowers will be a bit larger.
Surprises like that is a good reason to play with cross-pollination of different Echinopsis sorts.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trichicereus hybrid "June Noon"

"June Noon" has a Trichocereus- type tall and slim, about 2 inches thick, stem with brown spines. Nice bi-colored flowers are about 4-5inches across  on my plant, may become larger later on as the plant grows. Flowers open for two days.
Tricho hybrids are best grown in the ground, climate permitting. Large plants show spectacular blooms with multiple flowers, and sometimes flowering repeats during summer. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maihueniopsis glomeratus

Opuntoides are now days enjoying the Renascence with cactus collectors. For decades they have been neglected and out of fashion and known to only a handful of hardcores. A lot due to the many more people venturing into the area of field collecting small Opuntuas are rediscovered for cactus aficionados, and many more people want to grow them. 
Maihueniopsis glomeratus is the plant that has all it needs to be desired in the collection. It is relatively compact plant, with dense spectacular and spines, and nice large flowers, usually yellow but sometimes orange.
In culture they are easy and will thrive in a range of conditions, suitable for greenhouse, outside or a wind-seal. Lots of light is needed to support the spines development. Other than that the plants do well under general cactus care. They usually produce only one generation of stem segments per season, and the size the segments gain will depend on the growing conditions that year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Airampoa (Tunilla) sp.

Here is another Airampoa plant. This plant looks very indistinct, but it blooms while small. The plant in picture has only about 10 stem segments, and produces the second pare of flowers this season.
Airampoas are easy plants, propagated mainly by stem segments in culture. They need lots of sun to flower, same as most of Opuntoides.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Echinocactus polycephalus

Echinocactus polycephalus are rarely seen blooming in culture. It is a very slow growing plant that flowers only once reaches a size of 6-7 or more inches across. Sometimes rescue plants of wild origin available for sale, but they are pretty expensive. And wild plants often resist adopting to the new home conditions.
The so thought after blooms are somewhat indistinct, dirt-yellow petals tend to disappear in a spiny mess of a large plant. Blooming time is August.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Echinomastus johnsonii var. lutescens

Echinomastus johnsonii var. lutescens is a yellow-flowered form of that species, known from NW Arizona. plants there have dark red-brown spines and pretty common if you are looking at the right place.
It is an interesting plant, on a larger side for any Echinomastus. Flowers are persistently yellow with red center. You can see new fruits set on older blooms of this season. They ripen very quickly, in little over one month, then splitting and dropping seeds to the ground not far from the mother plant.
Population near Searchlight NV has yellow and pink flowering plants, but that form is considered johnsonii sensu stricto.
The photograph is taken in the desert west of Wikenburg AZ, on a rolling hills with sandy soils, at the end of April. This plant is rarely seen in cultivation, mainly due to pure understanding of it cultural requirements. It is moderately quick growing plant, blooming readily at a size of about 3 inches.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sclerocactus parviflorus

Sclerocactus parviflorus is the most widespread of the genus and probably the easiest in culture. This species occurs in Arizona Strip area, around Arizona-Utah border and into Four Corners area. Plants are somewhat hard to find but not too rare.
This plant in picture is growing on a spectacular setting with red sands as a background. Plants are variable in spines and flower color, some are blond or pure black-spinned and there are locations where white flowering plants are present.
Growing from seed makes no problem for the first two years when plants are gaining size pretty quickly, rlike some of Ferocacti. For the second summer seedlings likely would prefer to have summer dry period from end of May to August, simulating Arizona summer drought. August is a time for monsoons  and careful watering is again welcomed. I hope looking at that picture below will not inspire you into mixing any humus earth components for these plants roots.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Opuntia engelmannii

Opuntia engelmannii is a name for a variety of Opuntias found all over Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. This is a large padded plant, forming low bushes. There are areas in Arizona where thicklets of this Opuntia are actually dominant vegetation.
This plant is suitable for outside garden in the area where winters warm enough. It is quick growing and very resilient plant adapted to a wide range of conditions. In late spring it produces plenty of large yellow flowers, often with darker throat.
Note the difference in color in different flowers. Buds are open for two days as with most of Opuntoides, closing for the night. The first and the second day flowers are often show significant difference in color shade.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Opuntia treleasei

Opuntia treleasei (basilaris ssp. treleasei) is possibly the only or one of the two cactus endemics of California. In literature it is also reported from Arizona, but not recently confirmed. It is also known as 'Bakersfield cactus', as it grows - or used to - right where town of Bakersfield spreads. Habitat destruction makes it threatened species, though it is very resilient, and also found in couple state preserves South of the town, and up in the hills along Kern river.
Opuntia treleasei does not really remind of O.basilaris in its appearance, forming wide-spreading low-growing bushes. It is also spiny. Pads are bluish like with O.basilaris, and flowers are pink.
In habitat this plant grows mainly on sand, in lower elevations of Sierra Western foothills. It is moderately frost hardy, and wet winters are just the way it is at home. For successful blooming early watering is essential, otherwise it is an easy in culture plant, probably better suited for in-the-ground growing due to the size. It is a slow growing Opuntia, but faster than O.basilaris and in culture will overgrow any reasonable sized pot in not that many years.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Opuntia polyacantha

This Opuntia polyacantha plant comes from White mountains in California. All California polyacanthas have same yellow flower. This particular form grows in the valleys of Eastern slope of Sierra Nevada range, and in White mountains across the Owens valley where it is found as high as 13000ft /4000m.
This is a frost hardy plant that does not grow at elevations where there is no winter snowfall. It is easy in cultivation, but to see flowers lots of sun and very early season watering is required. Growing from seed is easy, once you germinate them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Escobaria deserti

Here is Escobaria deserti. It has flowers that are brownish like in the picture or dirty-green, 15 to 20mm broad. Plants are smaller than chlorantha, but spines on larger plants look similar. Juvenal plants look completely different though, Escobaria deserti forming nice white balls with tight cover of shots radial spines.
This species is very rare seen in collections. It has fairly modest look, even when in bloom, and pretty tricky to grow. Escobaria usually means 'easy', but here it is not the case. The plant not much in fashion with collectors, and many never even heard of it, so there is not much incentive to struggle with it. When you will proudly show your success to colleges the best you can count on is a polite not-understanding.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Escobaria chlorantha

Escobaria chlorantha is a somewhat confusing species. Is usually mixed up with Mammillaria desetii, a species common in near and West of Las Vegas, which was described 2 years later, and a significantly different even if likely related plant. The type locality for E. desertii is Ivanpah, a place of now days solar energy project just West of CA-NV border.
Escobaria chlorantha was described by Engelmann in 1878 as Mammillaria, with type locality East of Saint George, some 100 plus miles East of Vegas. Saint George is a much large place now then back in Engelmann's time. The plant pictured is from just West of Saint George and matches the original description well, so I'm assuming it belongs to same population.
This species is not well presented in collections. This is one of the larger Escobarias. Yong plants are very pretty and different from any other in the genus, densely wrapped with long needle-like gray-pink bi-colored spines. Larger plants develop more stiff spines and darker gray shaggy look. Flowers are remarkable, relatively large (original description states controversial "small 35mm broad") and yellow as in the picture. To fully open they need lots of heat.
This species unlike the common in collection Escbarias from Mexico and Eastern US deserts does not take the 'common' cactus culture well, and need to be treated more like Echinomastus johnsonii, growing in the same area. That of cause means no summer water, but plenty if it in late winter and spring, and pure mineral pot media. With this conditions met and lots of sun plants thrive in pot culture. Seed growing is also tricky, as at some point tiny plant will not take summer watering well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Escobaria vivipara ssp.arizonica

Escobaria vivipara is a species that deserves more attention from cactus collectors. There are couple dozens of recognized species in the genus, and much more interesting forms that do not get recognition in nomenclature.
The plant in the picture belongs to a very wide spread in Western US and variable species. The bright flowers are readily produced, and growing from seed is easy. Different forms of that species show various spine patterns, some all white, some with neat shorter spines, many red-brown like in the picture. The plants are known as singular in culture, but eventually they form large clumps.
The generic name was given by Britton and Rose in their historic work The Cactaceae published in early 20th century. The name honors brothers Romula and Numa Escobar, 'distinguished Mexicans'. In case you are like me get curious here is the short biographical article on them:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gymnocalycium baldianum

Gymnocalycium genus is named for naked flower tube, clearly seen in the picture. Buds are very characteristic for the genus, and once you see those white scales there is no doubt what it is.
Gymnocalycium  is a large genus of compact plants, what  makes it very popular. Plants are generally easy to grow and flower. Flowers are generally white, but there are species with red and yellow blooms.
Gymnocalycium baldianum is probably the most common and easy to grow plant within the genus, well known for it's bright red flowers. There are newly discovered wild populations of this species with pink or white flowers, but such plants are rarely seen in culture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trichocereus 'First Light'

Trichocereus hybrid 'First Light' was introduced by Mark Dimmitt. Hybrids of Trychocereus and Echinopsis in a narrow sense are becoming more popular among collectors. They are easy to grow, and flowers are hard to beat.
These hybrids need to be propagated by cuttings, as seed-grown plants will not inherit the parent's character. At the other hand, crossing different plants one gets a large veriety of forms, and with high possibility of other interesting specimens appearing. Everyone could try his creator's hand, since rising Echinopsis and Trichos from seed is about as easy as it gets with Cactaceae. And nothing is like waiting to see the first flower of your own cacti, of a kind none have seen yet.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mammillaria zephyranthoides

Mammillaria zephyranthoides is plant from mountains of central Mexico. It has large taproot and flat-depressed stem. In the wild plants are growing flat with the  ground, and in culture are forming flat disks.
Mammillaria zephyranthoides is an nice plant, with pretty and again large for Mammillaria flowers. It is easy to grow plant, blooming reliably after reaching the proper size. Larger and deeper pot will help to accommodate it's thick roots

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mammillaria grahamii

Mammillaria grahamii is very common plant in Arizona deserts at lower elevations, and occurs from South-Eastern California all the way through Texas, and in neighboring Mexican states. The habitat is usually mountains and hills. Without flowers it is just another hooked Mammillaria, but the flowers are among the most showy in the genus. Flowers are most often pink, but can be white-pink with darker mid-stripe or pale. Different forms of Mammillaria grahamii often look like different species, but it is impossible to really divide the forms as they melt to each other throughout the plant's range.
Mammillaria grahamii responds well to the common cactus culture and reliably blooms in the summer. It likes it hot - full sun position in my greenhouse gets it close to it's homeland Arizona conditions. When grown from seed the fist flowers may be seen usually in about 4 or more years, some local forms bloom when smaller. It is a nice and overall attractive plant that becomes more popular with collectors.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mammillaria gigantea

Here is the picture of modest blooms of Mammillaria gigantea. The plant develops large thick stem - my plant is about 6 inches thick now and probably will grow yet thicker. Black spines and white puffs in neat spiral arrangement  make a pretty view. Small cream flowers are easily lost on the plant, but I still like them.
Mammillaria gigantea responds well to common cactus culture. It comes from large area in central Mexico and not at all rare in colections, just not a very popular plant. It nicely develops when exposed to full sun and heat in my greenhouse. As it comes from higher elevations of about 2000m, it is moderately frost hardy. That usually means night frost to about -5C with warm days is tolerated with no negative effects on the plant.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mammillaria guelzowiana

Mammillaria guelzowiana is another well known plant. It becomes more common in collections, and easily available as both plants and seeds from specialty cactus places.
Mammillaria guelzowiana is one of the most beautiful Mammillarias, with white 'hear' and red or yellow hooked centrals. Flowers are among the most beautiful in the genus as well, as you can judge yourself. The plant in the picture has flowers about 2-3 inches across and this is a form with larger flowers, sometimes called 'robustor'.
Mammillaria guelzowiana can reach flowering size of just over 1 inch in 1.5- 2 years from seed, if conditions are ideal. The pictured plant is about 10 years old from seed and overgrowing 7 inch/21 cm pot. The 'common' cactus culture suits this cactus well, and the pure mineral potting media is much preferred. In literature you may find notes of this plant been somewhat rot pron and gentle, something I do not see at all since I switched to mineral substrate. The flowering period here in California is more or less from May through September.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mammillaria baumii

Mammillaria baumii is known for over 80 years, originally placed to artificial genus Dolichothele. It is a nice and distinct plant, with larger flowers. It is a popular species in cultivation, but not as much as you would expect for such a nice plant. My guess is that it may be somewhat difficult plant to grow when traditional soil-based mixes and tight pots are used, due to it's huge taproots. This plant in the picture had split it's clay pot once, and now is in bowl-shaped pot for that reason. 
In my conditions it presents no problems and treated as everything else. It is somewhat less tolerant to full sun when temperatures are over 40C, but so are many other plants I grow.
Mammillaria baumii comes from mountain areas of Mexican state Taumaulipas and moderately frost-hardy when dry. Flowering is diurnal and repeating over the summer.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Navajo sands

This landscape picture is taken near Page AZ. It is a beautiful and very colorful land. Red sands and cliffs define the landscape.
There are several interesting cacti that grow in the area, including Echinocactus xeranthemoides, Echinocereis mojavensis and engelmannii, Eclerocactus parviflorus, Pediocacti, Opuntias and Cylindropuntias. Cacti inhabit mainly rock outcrops and cliffs, or slops that are stable enough to not be eroded away before the plants have chance to establish. Sand dunes like in the picture often too dry for cacti to establish. Opuntia polyacantha in this picture is one of the species what can settle at such grounds. Cylindropuntia whipplei is another one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Death Valley desert

Death Valley National park is a home to several species of cacti. And many of them are the plants that make cactus aficionado very exited.
Dry climate with often winter only precipitation creates the most harsh Mojave desert conditions. Despite that there is a lot of spots in the park where cacti are as abundant as in the picture. At that spot one could see Cylindropuntia echinocarpa, Opuntia basilaris, Echinocactus polycephalius, Echinocereus engelmannii. The pink flower at the picture center belongs to Echinomastus johnsonii. Mammillaria tetrancistra and Sclerocactus polyancistrus are also found in that general area, at higher elevation. As you can see, not that many people can claim success in growing half of the species from this short list. They are not really rare and seeds are easily available, but the commonly accepted 'cactus culture' does not fit these plants due to their deep adaptations needed to thrive in such a harsh place.
The first week of May when I visited that spot was the time to see all of the cacti I found there except Echinocactus in bloom. Echinocactus flowers open in second half of July and August, in the hottest time of the year when no one in right mind will visit the place. But if you do - you will sure not be along. American tourists are of a very tough breed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cylindropuntia bigelovii

Cylindropuntia bigelovii is a Sonora desert plant. It is a pretty but hostile plant, forming large bushes about 6 ft tall. Dense light yellow spines give the stems that 'Teddy Bear" appearance, but spines are long sharp and barbed. It is best enjoyed from the safe distance.
This picture is taken in Joshua Tree park, an the spot called "Cholla patch". There is a large and dense standing of  Cylindropuntia bigelovii at that spot. Plant is very common down south and east, in southern California and Arizona, and in adjacent Mexico deserts. Plants have pretty flowers that I'll show some day I promise, and also spread vegetatively, dropping stem segments to the ground where they start as another plant. 
This is an easy species in culture, if given lots of warmth and sun. It is hard to recommend it for the collection though, due to size and extreme hostility. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mammillaria albicans

Mammillaria albicans is another western Mammillaria with the same recognizable flower characteristics - the long stigma lobes for instance. This group of plants is a good candidate to form a separate genus off the large Mammillaria, some day.
Mammillaria albicans comes from central Baja California and several islands in California gulf. This species blooms in mid-summer, at the time of monsoon rains down at Baja California. It is a beautiful small plant,  wrapped in white cotton. It's flowers produced mostly sporadically, but at least once over a summer my plant will give the full show with 20 or so blooms forming the classic Mammillaria ring.
In culture this is a 'no problem' plant at least once large. Below zero temps better be avoided given the plant's origin. Summer heat and full sun it takes just fine, as you would expect. As everything else I have it in pure mineral substrate, on my weekly summer watering scheduler. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Echinocereus apachensis

Echinocereus apachensis is a hybrid 'species' growing in Superstition mountains just East of Phoenix AZ. It is a large clumping plant. Plants are very variable, as you would expect from hybrid swarm, and the parents must be Echinocereus engelmannii and Echinocereis fasciculatus, both common in the general area. 
Echinocereus apachensis is best known for it's forms with very long, longer than 4 inches, flexible spines. Not at all every plant look like that. Most wild plants have their central spines shorter, some as short as one inch, some have stiffer and thicker spines. Plants usually have several brown or straw-yellow central spines with other spines white, but some plants are pure white.
Flowers are also remarkable, deep purple-pink in color, relatively large. There is also variation in flower shape, some plants having more E.engelmannii-like bell-shaped flowers, but mostly they are more of a trumpet shape like the one in the picture.
In culture Echinocereus apachensis presents no difficulties. When grown from wild seeds it is a good idea to keep as many plants as possible until they mature, and then select the most remarkable plants to keep in the collection. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cereus peruvianus

Here is another plant from Stanford Arizona Garden. It is a tall multi-stemmed Cereus with large white blooms. Flowers open at night and by the time I was there with my camera the blooms were closing. That half-closed flowers sill makes an intriguing shape against the plant ribbed stems.
Cereus perivianus is well known and easy plant, cultivated for over 100 years but better suited for outdoor collection were possible due to it's quick growing rate and size. After reaching the blooming size that is also quite large it is a reliable bloomer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mammillaria schwarzii

Mammillaria schwarzii comes from central Mexiacn state Guanajuato from altitudes above 2000m. In culture plants form multi-headed mounds, with small but plentiful white or pale yellow flowers. It is a modest but beautiful plant.
Mammillaria schwarzii is reported in literature as a somewhat difficult plant, a claim that I can not confirm. In my culture it gets no special treatment. Plants do well at full sun, in a cooler location in the greenhouse next to the vent.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oroya peruviana

The genus Oroya has only two or three species, and comes from Peruvian Andes. They have a distinct hansom appearance and small flowers of unusual shape. Coming from the mountains they can handle light night frost, and do not like heat and full sun coming together. 
In culture Oroyas are slow developing plants, and reaching flowering size in more than 5 years. Larger plants grow quicker and bloom reliably.
Oroya peruviana blooms every summer in my greenhouse, producing it's modes flowers continuously for couple months.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rebutia fiebrigii

Rebutia fiebrigii is one of many attractive plants from the genus. It is easy and a free-flowering plant, as most of Rebutias. Actually this particular plant in the picture brings in flowers year-around in my greenhouse. In the winter it will be several flowers every other week, in the summer there are flashes of blooms that time by time completely obscure the plant.
Rebutias like lots of sun, but not along with heat. If conditions  are too hot they turn the sun-exposed sides of their stems yellow, recovering in couple days when moved to shady spots. I have to keep my Rebutias in partially shaded side of the greenhouse for the summer mounts here in California.
Rebutias are mountain plants, and not adopted to hot desert summers of low altitude. They come from Argentina Andes. The genus is spread over large rigged area. Habitat like that usually means that the areal is made of relatively isolated spots, and it produces large variety of forms. It is possible to have a collection of several hundreds of plants, all been different Rebutia species and forms, with variety of flower and spines colors and shapes. 

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