Echinofossulocactus continued

Echinomastus

Like the species described on the previous page, Echinofossulocactus lancifer. commonly sold as Stenocactus lancifer, is characterized by the presence of deep wavy furrows between the prominent ribs which run up the sides of the stem. It is about the same height as E.hastalus but is a darker green in colour, with grey rather than yellowish spines on the distant areoles. The flowers, which are large and pink in colour, are produced fairly freely on plants between three and four years of age during the late spring and summer.

An attractive species which is not commonly seen in collections is E. vaupelianus: this has an undoubted value on account of the magnificent while spines which surround the solitary black central spine. The areoles are much denser than on the preceding species and this gives the white radial spines the appearance of being interwoven in one another.

A similar contrast can be seen in E. viola-cifiorus where the central spines are brown in colour. As its name implies the flowers are cream tinged with purple and freely produced during the late spring.

Possibly the longest spined member of this group is E. ochoterenaus with magnificent purplish flowers up to an inch (2-5 cm) in diameter and densely interwoven spines surrounding the dark plant bodies.

All Echinofossulocacti will benefit from Ihe addition of extra sand or leafmould lo the potting compost in order to keep it well drained but open. If leafmould is not available coarser peal lhan usual must be used and waler must be withheld altogether during the winter as the plants are otherwise susceptible to fungal infections, particularly in colder damp weather.

Echinofossulocactus zacatecasensis, in spile of ils unmanageable name, is really a must for every collector. The pale green stems with the characteristically wavy ribs carry slightly woolly areoles with between eight and twelve white radial spines and three brown central spines, rather longer than the radials. The flowers, which are freely produced on plants of four years of age or more, are white with pale pink tips to the petals.

Echinofossulocactus muhicostatus also has very numerous ribs and some species are reported with nearly a hundred in their wild state. However, it is an unreliable flowerer, Ihe differences between one specimen in a collection and another in this respect being probably due to the presence of hybrids among the true species. It is one of the most typical of all the members of this genus and the somewhat distant areoles enable the wavy ridges which interlock closely with one another to be seen clearly.

Echinomastus macdowellii is a variable plant, al first globular, which gives it a superficial similarity to ihe mammillarias, but later it becomes more elongated and attains a height of about 6 in (15 cm) in cultivation, although it is somewhat slow growing. The stems are almost completely covered by Ihe dense white radial spines thai arc produced from ihe close areoles and can be as many as twenty in number. Although dense they are bristly rather than sharp and serve to reflect the sun's rays away from the plant and preserve a layer of humidity between the spines and the skin of the plant rather than to ward off predators. The central spines, three or four in are at first a pale yellowish colour but they become while and later grey with age. Some nurserymen grow this plant as a flowering one, including it in collections for this purpose; however. I have never found it an easy plant to flower when young and the pink blooms are, in my experience, only produced on plants of six years of age or

Echinoma sionally seen in collections. The white flowers are sometimes distorted in shape because of the densely interlocking spines which seem to be a feature of this particular

Ferocactus

Ferocacii are distinguished by their conspicuous and stout spines. They are a menace in their habitat as they can become lodged in the hooves of horses and the hooked central spines of certain species make it difficult to dislodge them. They are easy cacti to care for preferring a bright situation with plenty of air. Good air circulation helps to prevent the appearance of a black sooty fungus on the areoles which thrives in close damp conditions on this family. They generally make large plants although they may take their time in doing so and they will not normally produce flowers until they have attained a considerable size.

Ferocactus corniger and F. latispinus are synonyms although the wide variety of features in the same species makes it possible to lind plants with certain superficial dissimilarities. The very broad flat central spines with their prominent red colouring have earned this plant the name of devil's tongue. In habit it is globular and solitary attaining a height of about a foot (30cm) in cultivation although imported specimens may be considerably larger. The plant bodies themselves are greyish to olive green in colour and are surrounded by eight or so ribs when young and more, up to twenty in number, as the plant grows older. The ribs themselves are quite prominent and there are deep folds between them with the edges ending in a sharp ridge. The areoles are deeply recessed into notches at intervals of about an inch (2-5 cm) down the sides of the ribs and. in addition to a small amount of brownish felting which turns grey with age. they produce about eight radial spines, some of which are stout and sharp and others smaller, finer and more bristly. Although older plants normally produce four central spines, young cultivated specimens may only make three. They are at first deep red and this colour persists, although waning with age. for about two years, after which the lower centrals become first brownish and then grey. The lowest central spine is the one which gives the species its common name and invariably points slightly downwards at the tip. There is a similar variety with prominent hooked yellow central spines which is known as F. macrodiscus.

Ferocactus electracanthus is one of the species in which the notches between the areoles are so pronounced as to make the plant somewhat tuberculate in appearance. In colour the stems are greyish green and the areoles. which are produced at intervals of between 1 and l}in (2-5 and 4cm). have a certain amount of pale felting in them. There are seven or so rather thin spreading and slightly recurved radial spines, darker at the base becoming straw coloured nearer the tip. and a much longer central spine prominently banded. It may be that the /•'. electracanthus of horticulture and F. melocactiforntis (otherwise sometimes known as F.liistrix) are. in fact, the same species, in any event they are very similar.

In F. horridus the tuberculate appearance of the spines has been carried to an extreme with young plants appearing to have a more or less normal central stem from which the tubercles arise. Young plants have about eight ribs which although fairly broad and flat in between the areoles are very pronounced at the tubercles. They are grey or blue-green in colour and the lower part of the stem and the skin immediately beside the areoles are frequently tinged with red. The areoles appear to have a small cap of thick brownish-grey fell on top which spills over the edge and round the sides to some extent. There are about six or seven radial spines and at least two of these are generally completely white and rather longer than the others. The remainder are at first reddish in colour gradually turning yellow from the tip downwards as they mature until the lower spines arc almost completely pale yellow in colour.

The central spine is only very slightly bent and is of tbe same colour as the majority of the radials, like them turning pale yellow from the tip downwards. It is a robust plant although rather slow growing and makes an interesting contrast to some of the other species in this group.

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