Wilmattea minutiflora

Hylocereus minutiflorus Britton and Rose, Contr. 15. S. Nat. Herb. 16: 240. 1913.

Cereus minutiflorus Vaupel, Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 23 86. 1913.

A slender, high-climbing vine, the joints 3-angled, deep green, the angles sharp but not winged, not horny-margined; areoles 2 to 4 cm. apart; spines usually 1 to 3, minute, brownish; flowers only 5 cm. long, opening at night, rarely remaining open until o'clock in the morning, very fragrant; flower-tube only 10 mm. long, or even less; outer perianth-segments linear, red on the midvein and at the tip, 3 to 4 cm. long; inner perianth-segments very narrow, acute, white; stamens white, about 1 cm. long, borne in a series at the base of the inner perianth-segments; scales on the ovary sometimes bearing bristles in their axils, sometimes naked, oblong to ovate, purple or greenish at base; style white, 2 cm. long, thick; stigma-lobes white.

Type locality: Near Lake Izabel, Guatemala.

Distribution: Guatemala and Honduras.

A cutting of the plant developed 3 thin wings 10 mm. wide, the areoles producing 2 to 5 long white hairs but no spines. In all the young joints 5 to 8 wings started, but all but 3 soon dropped out. In some cases the joints are nearly terete at base, or in cultivation develop long terminal shoots which are nearly terete.

This species was first collected by R. H. Peters in 1907. It was again collected by Mrs. T. D. A. Cockerell at Quirigoa in 1912, who sent living plants to Washington which flowered September 27, 1917, and in 1920 Harry Johnson sent us living specimens from Guatemala. In i9i6 Francis J. Dyer sent from Honduras what seems to be this species. Illustration: Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 16: pl. 69, as Hylocereus minutiflorus. Plate xxxii, figure 2, shows a flowering branch of the type specimen, which was collected by R. H. Peters in Guatemala in 1907. Figure 272 shows a flowering joint of the type specimen, photographed in Washington.

Fig. 272.—Wilmattea minutiflora. X0.6.

3. SELENICEREUS (Berger) Britton and Rose, Contr. U. S. Nat. Herb. 12: 429. 1909.

Slender, trailing, climbing or clambering, elongated cacti, the joints ribbed or angled, irregularly giving off aerial roots; areoles small, sometimes elevated on small knobs, bearing small spines or in one species spineless; flowers large, often very large, nocturnal; flower-tube elongated, somewhat curved; scales of ovary and flower-tube small, usually with long felt, hairs and bristles in their axils; upper scales and outer perianth-segments similar, narrow, greenish, brownish, or orange; inner perianth-segments broad, white, usually entire; filaments elongate, weak, numerous, in two clusters distinctly separated, one cluster forming a circle at top of flower-tube, the other scattered over the long, slender throat; style elongated, thick, often hollow; stigma-lobes slender, numerous, entire; fruit large, reddish, covered with clusters of deciduous spines, bristles, and hairs.

Type species: Cactus grandiflorus Linnaeus.

The name is from the Greek and signifies moon-cereus, the plants being night-blooming.

All the species are clambering vines with aerial roots, and in the tropics often reach the tops of high trees; where there are no trees or shrubs, they trail over rocks and walls. Most of them have very large flowers; in fact, one of the largest flowered species of the family (S. macdonaldiae) belongs here. Several of the species, such as S. hamatus, S. grandiflorus, S. macdonaldiae, and S. pteranthus (better known as Cereus nycticalus), have long been favorites with amateurs. In our studies of the genus we have had several hundred growing plants under observation, representing all the species, and specimens of all have bloomed. The species of the genus range from southern Texas through eastern Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and along the northern coast of South America, while one species has been reported from Argentina. Sixteen species are here recognized.

M. E. Eaton del.

1. Fruit of Hylocereus undatus.

2. Flowering branch of Wilmattea minutiflora.

3. Longitudinal section of fruit of Selenicereus grandiflorus.

(All natural size.)

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