Hello folks! I hope this post finds you all well. A few days ago I went to Lowe’s to see if they still had the Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis I had left behind before. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it was no longer there BUT there were other cactus and succulents on clearance. 🙂 They were all labeled but the names of all but one were incorrect. Well, not actually incorrect I suppose, they are now synonyms of another species. I wonder how long it will take the industry to catch up with the name changes? Since all these cactus are from The Cactus Collection from Altman Plants, maybe when they run out of labels they will change the names. Kelly Griffin, one of the foremost Aloe breeders, works for Altman. Hopefully, he has some influence.
I have learned a lot about plants over the years, and the world of cactus has taught me a lot. What we think of as thorns on a cactus are called spines. Spines are actually leaves. The body of a cactus is a stem. Stems can be smooth or covered with “protuberances” which are usually called tubercles. The tubercles of Mammillaria species are “nipple-like” while other species are ribbed or fluted in shape. The size of the tubercles sometimes depends on how much water the cactus is storing. Up to 90% of the mass of a cactus may be water.
I could go on, but maybe I should make a post about cactus anatomy. 🙂
So, let me introduce you to my new companions in alphabetical order…
The Echinopsis huascha (Desert’s Blooming Jewel, Torch Cactus) was labeled Trichocereus grandiflorus Hybrid. When I checked with Plants of the World Online by Kew, it said the name had changed. I also checked with Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and it listed several varieties and another species in the Echinopsis huascha Group. I found the Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora more closely matched my new plant because of the length of the spines. My plant’s spines are fairly short where the others are longer. The problem is, Britton & Rose, who gave the variety that name, apparently didn’t validly publish their description… Hmmm… I read a very long list of comments on a forum about this plant. Even though I want to call it Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora, I guess I better stick with Echinopsis huascha for now… You can call a plant any name you choose as long as the scientific name is validly published. There are “rules” that apply when someone names a plant…
As I was walking around the plant department I ran across this 8″ pot on clearance for $5.00. As you can see, they are good sized plants. Unfortunately, the one in the center had died and was laying on the shelf… Funny I saw the pot had a label but didn’t read it until I was home and started writing their journal pages… The label on the pot says Trichocereus grandiflorus Hybrid… If I had looked when I was at Lowe’s I would have put the smaller pot back. 🙂
Then, of course, there were several Mammillaria I’ve never heard of before. Many Mammillaria species have a lot of similar characteristics but certain things separate them from the rest. Mammillaria is a VERY LARGE genus and most are quite easy to grow. Some have, and still do have, multiple scientific names because different people have discovered them in various locations throughout Mexico and some are, umm, variable. Reclassifying is a work in progress and now we are down to 162 accepted Mammillaria species (according to Plants of the World Online by Kew). The Plant List named 185 species in 2013 (plus 93 infraspecific names), a total of 519 synonyms, and only 448 unresolved species… I currently have 10 species which means I have 175 to go. 🙂 Well, I could have mentioned how many species there are in the entire Cactaceae family…
This lonesome fellow is labeled Mammillaria nejapensis. I thought, “GEEZ! What kind of a name is that?” I checked out the name on Plants of the World Online and now its correct and accepted name is Mammillaria karwinskiana (mam-mil-AR-ee-uh kar-winz-kee-AH-na). Kind of reminds me of when you have to type in the letters to prove you aren’t a robot. Sometimes I can’t make them out and ask for another set which is sometimes worse than the first set. Maybe that means I am a robot… Well, this is undoubtedly one of those cacti I will have to call by its common name when in a hurry which is Silver Arrows. Plants of the World Online lists 45 synonyms of this cactus! You can click on the plant’s name to find out more details… Oh, one more thing… This species is one of only a few that are also known as “Owl Eye Cactus” which are known for their dichotomous branching. That means the stem will divide.
This one was in a predicament when I found it… It was laying on the shelf out of its pot with very little soil on its roots (or in the pot). I thought it looked pretty neat, kind of “club-shaped”. I picked it up and it automatically knew it was going to a new home. What could I do? Although the label says it is a Mammillaria celsiana, Plants of the World Online and Llifle say that name is now a synonym of Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion). Not even Dave’s Garden has a pronunciation for that name! This fellow is very spiny but friendly. This one also divides dichotomously.
The forth cactus is labeled correctly and the easiest to pronounce. It is Mammillaria mystax (mam-mil-AR-ee-uh MY-staks). Like many species, information says it is a solitary cactus. I could never figure out why it says they are solitary when they usually have plenty of company. If not accompanied by many other plants of other genera and species, it makes its own company. Solitary, in this case, means they are at first a single stem. Here again, this one divides dichotomously. That is weird because when I first started this post and was researching Mammillaria karwinskiana, I thought it was special because information says very few species do this. Now I see all three new Mammillaria species in my collection do the same thing. Hmmm… Information online lists a few species but these are not on the list which is because they are now synonyms of other species. 🙂 So, does that mean they are all Owl’s Eye Cactus? Apparently, Owl’s Eye is in reference to the way they look when they start to divide. Kind of like the way a persons head looks when they have two crowns instead of one. (I have an old friend who has two crowns…).
What makes Mammillaria mystax so special? Well, according to Llifle, this fellow grows long entangled spines around its crown. It says it does this “in the wild” but doesn’t say whether it does this in captivity (cultivation). Sometimes plant language makes one scratch their head. When we write about characteristics we learn a few things we can pass along but have to sometimes translate. Makes us sound brilliant when actually we also just learning. There is a lot to learn and I always learn something with each new plant I bring home.
This is a few Kalanchoe delagoensis (Chandelier Plant, Mother of Thousands) plantlets. Lowe’s had several very nice succulent combination planters but they were pretty expensive. One of the planters had a really nice Kalanchoe delagoensis in the center. The planter was $22.00 and I certainly didn’t want to pay that much when all I wanted was the Kalanchoe. It had quite a few plantlets that somehow made their way into my pocket. They are pretty small and didn’t have aerial roots yet so I am not sure if they will survive or not. Ummm… Was it stealing when I am actually rescuing the plantlets?
Well, I better close for now. It took a while to finish this post because there seems to be a lot going on now. I have several posts in line so I better get caught up.
So, Until next time… Stay well, be safe, enjoy the cooler temps because “you know what” is right around the corner. As always, GET DIRTY!