Selenicereus wercklei Weber

Cereus wercklei Weber, Bull. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris 8: 460. 1902.

Epiphytic, slender, much branched, freely rooting, the young growth producing small swollen knobs at the areoles tipped by small red scale-like leaves; branches pale green, to 1 cm. in diameter, nearly terete, with 6 to 12 faint ribs; areoles minute, each bearing a small tuft of felt subtended by a small scale but no spines; flower 15 to 16 cm. long, bright red; outer perianth-segments narrow, greenish, spreading; inner perianth-segments oblong; flower-tube narrow; style green at base, pink in the middle, nearly white above; ovary spiny; fruit ovoid, yellow, bearing clusters of brown spines at the areoles.

Type locality: Cerro Mogote, near Mira-valles, Costa Rica.

Distribution: Costa Rica.

It resembles some species of Rhipsalis in its epiphytic habit and in its long, slender, naked branches, but not in its flower. In its naked stems, large flowers, and spiny fruit it resembles S. inermis, but differs from it in its many low ribs. We have had this plant under observation for a number of years but it has flowered only once. We have seen a second flower which Mr. Otón Jiménez brought us in alcohol from Costa Rica in 1919. He states that even in Costa Rica the plant rarely flowers.

Figure 288 shows branches of Seleni-cereus wercklei from a plant grown in Washington which was sent from Costa Rica by O. Jiménez; figure 289 shows a plant which flowered in the New York Botanical Garden in 1918.

DESCRIBED SPECIES, PERHAPS OF THIS GENUS. Cereus acanthosphaera Weingart, Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 24: 81. 1914.

"Dark green, climbing in trees and hanging down, branched at the base; branches uniform, 3 to 7 meters long, with narrow, short, equal, rectangular joints and or 5 compressed-winged ribs; sinuses acute; areoles small, with scanty shining tomentum; spines acicular, 1 to 3, diverging, short, and brownish above; flower unknown; fruit large, round, pendent, yellowish green, pilose and very spiny, crowned by the rotting perigon."

Type locality: On Rio de Santa Maria, State of Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Distribution: Known only from the type locality, and to us only from the description.

It may be a near relative of Deamia testudo. In Mexico the two plants are found in the same river valley.

Cereus humilis De Candolle, Prodr. 3: 468. 1828.

Plant low, 2.5 cm. in diameter, with spreading, elongated, rooting branches; ribs or 5, strongly, compressed, repand; areoles 8 mm. apart, bearing white felt or nearly naked; spines 4 to 8 mm. long; radial spines 8 to 12, setaceous, white; central spines 3 or 4, stouter than the radial, straw-colored.

This species was described by De Candolle in 1828, who stated that the flowers and the country from which it came were unknown. Salm-Dyck had also sent it to him as a new species, under the name of Cereus gracilis. In 1837, Pfeiffer redescribed the species, adding the variety minor Pfeiffer (Enum. Cact. 115), which latter he described as having fasciculate, slenderer branches and subsetaceous spines. He gave as synonyms of this variety Cereus mariculi Hortus and C. myriacaulon Martius, sometimes misspelled nyriacaulon.

Fig. 289.—Flowering plant of Selenicereus wercklei.

Lemaire in 1839 listed the species and also described the variety major Lemaire (Cact. Gen. Nov. Sp. 80. 1839), which he stated to be three times as stout as the species. To the variety he referred C. rigidus Lemaire, but this he seems never to have described.

In 1913 Weingart sent Dr. Rose a cutting labeled Cereus rigidus which is still growing in the Cactus House of the U. S. Department of Agriculture but it has never flowered. It gives off aerial roots and otherwise looks like a Selenicereus but is clearly distinct from any of our described species. The stem is slender, about 8 mm. in diameter, strongly 5-angled; areoles closely set, about 8 mm. apart; spines small, acicular, the centrals a little stouter than the radials, bulbose at base and yellowish brown in color. Weingart's plant proves to be the same as No. 6791 received from M. Simon of St. Ouen, Paris, under the name Cereus pentagonus, at the New York Botanical Garden.

Salm-Dyck in 1845 listed the varieties rigidior and myriacaulon* The latter name he published in 1850 (Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1849. 22, 222), when he states that the species has short spreading branches about 7.5 cm. long, while the variety is even shorter, slenderer, and often appressed to the ground. He would refer here Cereus pentalophus radicans De Candolle (Mem. Mus. Hist. Nat. Paris 17: 117. 1828).

Several of the West Indian species of Selenicereus are known to us to develop very little for long periods after commencing growth; we suspect that the name Cereus humilis was based on a plant in that condition.

Cereus maynardii Paxton, Bot. Mag. 14: 75. 1847.

Cereus grandiflorus speciosissimus Pfeiffer, Enum. Cact. 113. 183 7.

Cereus grandiflorus hybridus Haage in Förster, Handb. Cact. 415. 1846.

Cereus grandiflorus maynardii Paxton, Rev. Hort. III. 1: 285. 1847.

Cereusfulgidusf Hooker in Curtis's Bot. Mag. 96: pl. 5856. 1870.

Cereus grandiflorus ruber Rümpler in Förster, Handb. Cact. ed. 2. 751. 1885.

Stems bright green, 3 or 4-angled, 3.5 cm. in diameter; spines about 9 in each cluster, acicular, 12 to 18 mm. long, straw-colored, with brown tips; flowers 15 to 18 cm. broad; flower-tube 7.5 to 10 cm. long, bearing small red scales with hairs in their axils; flower parts in several series, scarlet; stamens numerous, shorter than the inner perianth-segments; style elongate; stigma-lobes numerous, linear, white.

This is known to be of hybrid origin, being a cross between Selenicereus grandiflorus and Heliocereus speciosus.

The publication of the combination Cereus maynardii has been only incidental and is attributed to both Paxton and Lemaire. As it is named for Viscountess Maynard, it should have been spelled maynardae.

Illustrations: Paxton's Bot. Mag. 14: pl. opp. 75, as Cereus grandiflorus maynardii; Fl. Serr. 3: pl. 233, 234, as Cereus grandifloro-speciosissimus maynardii; Curtis's Bot. Mag. 96: pl. 5856, as C. fulgidus; Deutsche Gärt. Zeit. 9: 276, as C. hybridus.

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