Monstrose Apple Cactus, etc., etc.
Cereus repandus var. monstruosus cv. ’Rojo
KER-ee-us REP-an-dus mon-stru-OH-sus
Cereus peruvianus var. monstrose cv. ‘Rojo’
KER-ee-us per-u-vee-AN-us mon-STROHZ
Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus DC. was named and described by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis in 1828. I think he should have described it as “f.” instead of “var.” because the monstrosus mutation is a form, not a variety.
I bought this cactus on 9-15-10 from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi. The label stated it was a Cereus peruvianus monstrose cv. ‘Rojo’. When I was making my first Belmont Rooster blog in 2013, I found The Plant List and it said the Cereus peruvianus was a synonym of Cereus repandus but did not list a “monstrose”.
HISTORY OF THE TWO SPECIES:
Both Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill. and Cereus repandus (L.) Mill. were first named Cactus peruvianus and Cactus repandus by Carl von Linnaeus and described as such by him in Species Plantarum in 1753. Then, in 1768, Philip Miller changed both names to Cereus peruvianus and Cereus repandus and described them as such in Gardeners Dictionary.
I have no idea when it was decided that Cereus peruvianus and Cereus repandus were the same species. Nor do I know why they chose to make Cereus peruvianus a synonym of Cereus repandus instead of the other way around… I am sure it is complicated enough to be understood. The species was much better known as Cereus peruvianus, however, this cactus is not a native of Peru.
Daiv Freeman of the CactusGuide has this to say about Cereus peruvianus: “Cereus peruvianus is not an officially recognized name and is often applied to “cereus-like” cactus in cultivation with no known origin.”
WHAT ABOUT Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus ‘Ming Thing’?
As I mentioned earlier, the first version (1.0) of The Plant List didn’t mention a “monstrose” or “monstrosus” form BUT the 1.1 version that came out in September 2013 did. It said Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus was a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus. WHAT?!?!?! I can understand why Cereus peruvianus would be a synonym of Cereus repandus if both were the same species in the first place. I wonder if Carl von Linnaeus or Philip Miller ever saw either plant in the wild. Since their native habitat is in the same place, wouldn’t you think if the same person saw both species in the wild they would realize they were the same species?
Well, The Plant List is no longer maintained so I started using the new Plants of the World Online by Kew that came out in 2017. I checked to see what they had to say about Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus and they said they same thing as The Plant List…
I DON’T THINK SO…
First of all, Cereus peruvianus and Cereus repandus are native to different locations in South America than Cereus hildmannianus. That is based on the maps provided on the Plants of the World Online for both species. Normally, even if they are determined to be the same species, the first documentation would win the prize.
Cereus hildmannianus K.Schum. was named and described by Karl Moritz Schumann in Flora Brasiliensis in 1890. That was AFTER C. peruvianus and C. repandus was described by Linnaeus and Miller in 1753 and. 1768. Not to mention, as I said, the difference in location. Unless… But still…
SO, I checked with the Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) to see what they had to say. They have a long list of accepted names and synonyms, many with photos. They say Cereus repandus (L.) Mill. is an accepted name just like TPL and POWO do and they agree with them both about Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill. BUT… They also list Cereus peruvianus R.Kiesling which they say is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus and Cereus peruvianus C.F.Först. as a synonym of Stenocereus eburneus.
WAIT A MINUTE!!!!
Cereus peruvianus R.Kiesling?!?! Now, that is weird! What if the “monstrosus” form of Cereus peruvianus that is in debate here is from Cereus peruvianus R.Kiesling instead of Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill.? Then, I suppose, it would actually be Cereus hildmannianus var. monstrosus. But no. According to the full description of the name (on IPNI) it is Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill. var. monstruosus DC. HOLY CRAP! The International Plant Names Index also spells monstrosus as monstruosus! That’s pretty official! So why is The Plant List and plants of the World Online, Tropicos, etc. say “monstrosus”? Well, heck, the industry says monstrose! One other thing… Cereus peruvianus R.Kiesling wasn’t “described” until 1982 and was only mentioned as a basionym for his Stenocereus peruvianus (according to Llifle).
OH YEAH, I almost forgot. POWO and TPL are saying the “monstrosus” form is a synonym of a “non-monstrosus” form. GEEZ!
Where was I, Oh, yeah! Llifle… They say Cereus peruvianus var. monstruosus DC. is an accepted name but say it is part of the Cereus repandus group… Note their spelling of monstrosus.
WHAT ABOUT “ROJO”
As far as “monstrosus” forms go, many species of cactus mutate different forms in the wild and in cultivation. However, the cultivar “Rojo” is not from nature. Something else was “added” by the “creator” in cultivation or in a nursery or greenhouse by “someone” other than God. 🙂
IN MY OPINION…
I am in perfect harmony saying Cereus peruvianus is a synonym of Cereus repandus. If, in fact, they are the same species and since Cereus peruvianus isn’t from Peru as the name states. Both were described in the same publications in the same year and the only way Cereus peruvianus would win the debate is if they went by alphabetical order. P is before R.
BUT, I am not in agreement that Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus. 1) They are not native of the same location. 2) How does a “monstrosus” form become a synonym of a non-monstrosus straight species? They would have to say Cereus hildmannianus var. or f. monstrosus. But that isn’t the case. 3) I haven’t seen any mention of polygenetic testing to prove it.
It is quite possible that Cereus repandus (L.) Mill. and Cereus hildmannianus Schum. are also the same species…
IF, in fact, there was polygenetic testing, they would no doubt rule in favor of saying Cereus hildmannianus is a synonym of Cereus repandus because it was named and described first. It would just increase the native range of Cereus repandus. We will find out for sure when polygenetic testing is performed.
So, why does Plants of the World Online say Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus? They decided that based on Karl Moritz Schumann’ description in Flora Brasiliensis in 1890… That’s it. No scientific evidence.
SO, since I am in agreement that Cereus repandus is the correct name of the species, I am calling this plant Cereus repandus var. monstrosus… If I wanted to take it a step farther, I would say “f.” for form instead of “var.” because the “monstrosus” characteristic is a form and not a variety. That is legal, by the way. I can choose to use this name based on Philip Miller’s description of Cereus repandus in 1768. 🙂
Of course, the industry will continue calling this cultivar Cereus peruvianus monstrose ‘Rojo’.
When I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013, I brought my Cereus repandus monstruosus cv. ‘Rojo’ with me. When I repotted the cactus in the spring of 2012, I think, and wound up with four. I gave one away and one died which left me with these two.
Common Name: Monstrose Apple Cactus
Origin: Northern South America but the cultivar is nursery grown.
Light: Full sun. If you overwinter your cactus inside, you need to introduce them to full sun slowly over a period of time. I normally keep mine in light shade to sun and they do fine.
Soil: Fast-draining. Potting soil amended with grit and pumice or perlite.
Water: Normal watering in the summer, dry in the winter.
I lost my first Cereus repandus var. monstrosus ‘Rojo’ in the summer of 2014, but I found another one from Wal-Mart on March 19, 2018.
Although this one is much different in shape than my first Cereus repandus var. monstrosus ‘Rojo” is is still the same cultivar. Even without being a cultivar, there are many different forms of ‘monstrosus” shapes in the wild and in cultivation. The color of the spines is characteristic of the cultivar ‘Rojo’.
My new Cereus repandus var. monstrose measured 5 1/2” tall x 3 3/8” wide. It is in a 3 1/4” wide x 3” tall pot. I think it has a ways to go before it needs repotting but I will check the roots later. I bought four cacti and two succulents in all and they were soaking wet…
I think this Cereus repandus var. monstrose is going to make a great addition to my cactus collection.
Once the temperatures warmed up I moved the potted plants from the house back outside again for the summer.
I moved most of my plants to the front porch on July 4 then later I moved the cactus to the back porch. I will probably move the cactus to the front porch at some point.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
The link to Llifle below will take to pages on the species and also useful growing information.
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.