Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’
KER-ee-us FORBZ-ee-eye mon-STROHZ
Cereus hankeanus f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’
Cereus validus f. monstrose cv. ‘Ming Thing’
KER-ee-us val-EE-dus mon-STROHZ
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. Little did I know, that its name would be the most confusing of all to figure out and still I am really not sure.
Cereus (L.) Mil. forbesii Haw. forma monstrose hort. cv. ‘Ming Thing’
There are several websites I use when I do plant name research. Since I am re-writing this page from scratch on November 5, 2017, I had to make a few changes. I used The Plant List as the main source of correct and accepted names but 2013 was the last time it was updated. I sent an email to the editors about an incorrect spelling and asked when the site was going to get updated. I was surprised to get a reply from the senior content editor from Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens). He told me that The Plant List was no longer being maintained. GEEZ! He also gave me a link to a new website called Plants of the World Online but data was still being uploaded. I wondered for a long time why The Plant List had not been updated since 2013 and I guess that was why. Good thing there were other sites I have been relying on, too. Usually, when I check the various sites they agree on the correct and accepted names even though they have changed. That is NOT the case with cactus and succulents. That is NOT the case with this one in particular.
SO, here I go explaining the confusion and maybe venting somewhat (and laughing at the same time)… Now, the following information is JUST on the species name and NOT the “form” or cultivar.
I had just discovered The Plant List while working on my first blog, The Mystical Mansion and Garden, when I was still in Mississippi. It said that Cereus forbesii C.F. Först. was 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 I haven’t found yet, Otto’s description was not accepted. BUT, later you will see that the Llifle website says his name is, I mean was, the accepted name…
At the time I first started doing the research (in 2013), the Llifle website, GRIN (Germplasm Research Information Network-USDA), Dave’s Garden, and Tropicos (Missouri Botanical Garden) all said that Cereus validus Haw. was the correct and accepted name and Cereus forbesii was a synonym. Cereus validus Haw. was named and first documented by Adrian Hardy Haworth in The Philosophical Magazine and Journal in 1831.
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.
Now, let’s look at my recent research I just concluded today (11-5-17). Well, kind of concluded because I am yet to hear from my last email to Llifle.
Disregard The Plant List because it isn’t being maintained anymore. SO, let’s update everything from these sites:
Dave’s Garden still says that Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ is a synonym of Cereus validus f. monstrose. According to The Plant List (updated in 2013), Cereus validus is/was a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus. Oh, I forgot. I am not supposed to mention The Plant List down here. Cereus hildmannianus K.Schum. was first described by Karl Moritz Schumann in Flora Brasiliensis in 1890.
THEN, when I checked on August 16, 2018, Dave’s Garden says Cereus validus f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ is the accepted name and Cereus forbesii f. monstrose cristate is a synonym… On the same date, Plants of the World Online says Cereus forbesii is STILL a correct and accepted name and Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus…
The GRIN website (Germplasm Resources Information Network-USDA) said that Cereus validus auct. was a synonym of Cereus hankeanus. Where did the “auct.” come from? Cereus hankeanus F.A.C.Weber ex K. Schum is, in fact, an accepted scientific name since 1897… Well, that was earlier and now I can even get the GRIN website to open. I found where the “auct.” came from which is just part of the actual authorship name but I can’t find where I found it. GEEZ! Now GRIN is called USDA Plants Database but the URL still says grin…
Cereus hankeanus F.A.C.Weber ex K. Schum was described by Frederic Albert Constantin Weber and Karl Moritz Schumann in Gesamtbeschreibung der Kakteen in 1897.
I could swear Tropicos had PREVIOUSLY said that Cereus validus was the accepted name and Cereus forbesii was the synonym. Maybe I was mistaken, but my journal says I thought it was weird because Tropicos had disagreed with The Plant List (in 2013) since they are /were a major contributor. Now, their 2017 revision, it lists both Cereus forbesii Otto and Cereus forbesii hort. Bot. Berlin ex C.F. Först. but it doesn’t say which one is legitimate or a synonym. Come on, guys! Pick a side! Tell us what you think without options…
Llifle: Encyclopedia of Living Forms (http://llifle.com)
Llifle says Cereus hankeanus is the accepted name and lists Cereus forbesii Otto as the original name instead of Cereus forbesii C.F. Först., which is NOW the synonym.
It says Cereus cv. ‘Ming Thing’ = Cereus validus cv. ‘Ming Thing’ but it gives no kind of description whatsoever. No mention of the monstrose form which it definitely is.
It says Cereus validus auct. non Haw. = Cereus forbesii which it says is a synonym of Cereus hankeanus. AH, there it is.
It says Cereus validus Haw. =Acanthocereus tetragonus. Like I mentioned above, The Plant List said that Cereus validus was a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus (but that was in 2013…). Where the heck did Acanthocereus tetragonus come from? GEEZ! There are TWO Cereus validus! Cereus validus auct. non Haw. and Cereus validus Haw.! What does “non Haw.” mean anyway?
Daiv Freeman’s CactusGuide:
Does not even list Cereus forbesii but now it says that it is a synonym of Cereus validus. Usually, his website also shows photos and information about the other forms, such as the monstrose form, but NOT in this case. He has some very interesting articles on his website and I trust his work. He has identified several cacti for me. I have questioned him about a few names and he has always given me good answers…
Now let’s see what the new Plants of the World Online (by Kew) have to say… Well, it says Cereus forbesii C.F. Först. is THE accepted name. It also says Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus K.Schum. which is an accepted name. It mentions in the biography for Cereus forbesii that it was mentioned as a synonym of Cereus hankeanus in Cactaceae Checklist in 2016… BUT, Cereus hankeanus is NOT on their list either. Ummm, doesn’t Llifle say that Cereus hankeanus is NOW the accepted name and Cereus forbesii is the synonym? Something is screwy!
Cereus forbesii, or whatever you call it, 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. Crickets sampled my plant but it had already mutated. It just left a permanent brown crater. 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 or alien 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.
Unfortunately, I gave up my two large and AWESOME Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ in 2014.
FORTUNATELY, THOUGH, I FOUND ANOTHER ONE, although MUCH smaller at Wal-Mart on 2-1-16.
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 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!
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 photo shoot.
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 are 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.
I checked the plant databases again when I updated this page on June 29 (2019) and they pretty much say the same thing. For curiosity, I typed Cereus ‘Ming Thing’ on the search window and now see MOST websites are inline (online) in using the name Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ for this plant. Ummm… Dave’s Garden is STILL sticking with Cereus validus as the species. I am sure they will come around at some point and eventually the other databases will follow. Maybe when they decide to update next time.
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. 🙂