Ferocactus ingens is possibly more correctly known as Echinocactus ingens. Although only producing five ribs at first these will increase with age. extra rows appearing as the centre unfolds each spring. The ribs are broad but sharp near the base giving the younger plants a distinctly five-sided appearance. but nearer the top they become less broad and a more marked division between the ribs can be seen. The plant bodies arc bluish green and the areoles. which are borne on conspicuous tubercles, are about three-quarters of an inch (2cm) apart in the young plants. They are so woolly when young that the whole upper surface of the plant is completely covered in a brownish mat of hair through which the spines protrude, but as the areoles grow older the amount of wool in them lessens. The spines are stout, at first purple in colour and almost black near the base but becoming an attractive grey colour which eventually fades to a dirty cream. There are six radial spines of which the uppermost is considerably longer than the others and the lower is generally shorter. The central spines point directly outwards from the plant and are unhooked.
This species is a very slow grower indeed but is able to withstand long periods of drought or other forms of neglect. It should be kept as dry as possible during the winter although it will lake average watering during the summer months. Flowering size is only achieved after many years have gone by. and the average collector is unlikely to flower a specimen raised in cultivation.
134 Ferocactus viridescens. like F.wisiizenii illustrated beside it. is distinguished by having more ribs lhan any of the preceding species even when it is quite young. The planl bodies are globular and solitary, dark glossy green in colour and with about thirteen or so broad but clearly defined ribs. It makes a good planl for the amateur wishing lo have at least one representative of the genus in a collection because it will flower when younger than the others, but may still lake len or more years from seed before it is large enough to flower reliably. Once it has become established, however, it will produce quite a succession of flowers during the flowering season..
The spines are very variable in the specimens I have seen and it is probable that like so many of the members of this family much depends on whether the plant is an imported specimen or one which has been raised from seed in this country. There are seldom fewer than nine radial spines and these are at first red becoming brownish yellow with age. The centrals vary between three and four on most plants, although younger specimens may only have a solitary
Generally the Ferocacti make globular plants, one important exception to this is F.stainesii which ultimately becomes a large columnar plant with numerous sharp somewhat wavy ribs. It is distinguished by the long bristly hairs which are in reality modified radial spines.
Ferocactus wislizenii itself is generally globular in cultivation, although wild forms may become rather taller than broad with age eventually attaining a height of some
2 ft (60 cm) and making it one of the largest Ferocacti. The body is dark green but full sunlight and a little drought may turn it paler giving it a reddish tinge round the base. It is possible, in fact, that this species, like F. viridescens, prefers a slightly more shaded location. Young plants quickly develop about thirteen sharply divided strongly notched ribs and the areoles. which are produced at intervals of an inch (2-5 cm) or so, are quite prominently borne on the top of small tubercles. Although mature specimens may have numerous radials most plants for sale in the shops tend to have about seven somewhat bristly radials several of which are while and thin from the start. The remainder of the radials and the four centrals start olf dark brown and become gradually paler as the plant grows older. The lowest central spine on each areole is turned sharply downwards giving it a hooked appearance.
Other giant Ferocacti are F.acanthodes, where the spine colour persists for very much longer but the planl is slower growing. and F.emoryi which has very pronounced luberculate ribs like those of F. hórridas bul much redder spines.
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