Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’
KER-ee-us FORBZ-ee-eye mon-STROHZ
SYNONYMS: Cereus cochabambensis Cárdenas, Cereus cochabambensis var. longicarpa Cárdenas, Cereus comarapanus Cárdenas, Cereus hankeanus F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum., Cereus huilunchu Cárdenas, Piptanthocereus comarapanus (Cárdenas) F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus forbesii (C.F.Först.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus hankeanus (F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus huilunchu (Cárdenas) F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus labouretianus Riccob.
Cereus forbesii C.F. Först. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of cacti. It was described as such by Carl Friedrich Förster in Handbuch der Cacteenkunde in 1846. However, it was FIRST described in 1844 as Cereus forbesii Otto by Christoph Friedrich Otto (with other authors) in Cacteae in Horto Dyckensi Cultae. For some reason, Otto’s description was not accepted or validly published. However, some websites do list Otto as the accepted author.
Dave’s Garden continues to list Cereus validus f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ as the accepted species. According to Plants of the World Online by Kew, Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus. Tropicos from Missouri Botanical Gardens, says Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus forbesii and Cereus forbesii is a synonym of Cereus validus… Hmmm…
I wrote a lengthy discussion about which websites said what on this page in 2017 but then decided to rewrite it… Most websites are on track with Plants of the World Online now as The Plant List is no longer maintained.
The genus, Cereus Mill., was named and described by Philip Miller in the fourth edition of The Gardeners Dictionary in 1754. Plants of the World Online by Kew currently list 26 accepted species in the Cereus genus (as of 10-27-19 when I am updating this page). That number is subject to change. The Plant List (not maintained since 2013), listed 48 accepted species (plus 4 infraspecific names) a total of 254 synonyms, and 456 unresolved names. So, the people in charge have been working hard to get the Cereus genus organized. So many species had multiple scientific names.
I bought my first Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ on 7-15-09 at Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi when I was living at the mansion in Leland. I thought the plant was so AWESOME and weird looking that I just had to bring it home. It was the first of many cacti for me and it taught me a lot.
Cereus forbesii is native to parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay and grows in a variety of habitats. The species is shrubby and tree-like with many branches and can grow up to 21 feet tall. GEEZ!!! The species looks nothing like the monstrose or other forms that can mutate. The monstrose form CAN appear in nature OR in the horticulture field. It happens when the main stem is damaged by a hungry and curious insect or on purpose by humans or aliens and then it starts mutating. Ummm, maybe I should leave out the alien part.
Origin: Cereus forbesii is native to parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The cultivar ‘Ming Thing’ is of human origin.
Zones: USDA zones 10a-11. Although they are cold tolerant down to 30 degrees F, they prefer temps above 40. Frost is not a good idea and can leave them scarred for life.
Sun: Sun to part shade. Although information says they do well in full sun, the species does well in a variety of habitats. I always grew mine in light to part shade because sometimes mutations do not adapt well to full sun like the species they are from.
Water: They like regular watering during the warmer months but prefer it on the dry side during the cooler months while inside for the winter (or outside where they are hardy.
When I repotted this plant, I noticed I could divide it. So, I did. I named them #1, #2 and #3. #2 died sometime in 2012 so I brought the two with me when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013.
I had to keep most of the plants in the basement for the remainder of th winter. They did fine for the most part.
But they were glad when spring came and they could be moved outside. I picked a spot next to a shed to rebuild the plant tables I brought from Mississippi. This plant had weird spots but I didn’t realize what they were at first…
Doing very well…
Sometimes we do things we regret later on. I always regretted dividing this plant but I suppose I did it as an experiment and because I wanted more.
There was something weird going on with some of the cactus. Something was chewing on them and I couldn’t figure it out. Sometimes during the day, I would see a grasshopper on the plants but they weren’t chewing on the cactus. One night I decided to go out with the flashlight and see if something was doing it during the night. Sure enough, it was crickets. I suppose that was what nibbled on #1 while in Mississippi.
Unfortunately, I gave up my two large and AWESOME Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ in 2014 and most of the other plants.
FORTUNATELY, THOUGH, I FOUND ANOTHER ONE, although MUCH smaller at Wal-Mart on 2-1-16.
The plant was pretty nice and well shaped…
Of course, the crickets had to sample this one, too. The two little plants in the pot are from the Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother-of-Thousands).
I had to move the plants inside for the winter on 10-17-17. I always photograph and measure the cactus when I move them inside and it measured it on 10-17-17 and it was 2″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide… SO, it is growing although VERY SLOWLY!
Still alive and kicking and enjoying the great outdoors! I moved the plants from around the shed to the front and back porch of the house on July 4. I put this plant with the cactus on the back porch. The Japanese Beetle invasion was getting pretty bad and they were starting to chew on some of the plants. The plant tables were under a Chinese Elm tree that the beetles love.
When I moved the plants inside for the winter on October 10 I had to measure them again. The last time I measured was October 17, 2017. So, after one year, this cactus measures 2 1/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide. It seems it has grown 1/8″ taller but it is still the same width.
November 29 was a nice spring-like day so I took the cactus outside for a photoshoot.
I was making a new post about the cactus in my small collection comparing the spines of the different genus and species. Of course, this “monstrous” or “monstruosus” form of Cereus forbesii has very few spines if any. Mine appears to have none and neither did the one I had before. I have seen a few photos online with a few. It reminds of folded hands with the fingers pointing inward.
All the cactus made it through the winter with flying colors and were glad to be back outside. They are on the back porch again which seems to be a much better location. No crickets to snack on the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ on the porch.
Once again it was time to move the plants inside for the winter on October 11, 2019. This time, the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ measured 2 1/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide. That is 1/4″ taller than in 2017 but it is still the same width.
I repotted a few cactus and succulents after I brought them inside for the winter so their soil will be nice and loose (and they needed bigger pots). Even though the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ didn’t need a larger pot, I hadn’t freshened its soil for a while. Its old potting soil was 2 parts potting soil with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part perlite which is what I used for years. These plants do not have an extensive root system.
Its potting soil was pretty dry and hard so I used my new recipe of about 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 50% pumice. Now we’ll see how it likes that.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you can’t “Like” or post a comment, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ummm… How do I even add links for further reading when very few are even in agreement? I can’t list a link for Llifle because it contradicts itself… Says a species is a synonym of one species and when you check its a synonym of another… Maybe in the future botanists, horticulturalists, collectors, scientists, etc. will come together and figure it out… The X’s are for future links. 🙂