Thursday, August 2, 2007
Mammillaria grahamii: Tagged, Sealed and Delivered
Just as expected, the Mammillaria grahamii in my garden has started to flower. This happens just like clockwork about five days after the first rainfall of the monsoon in early to mid-July. Flowering will continue until early September. The flowers grow in the axils of the cactus and form a ring near its top.
This species has about ten common names; Arizona Pincushion, Lizard Catcher, Sunset Cactus, Cabeza de Viejo, and Black-spined Pincushion, to name a few. The M. grahamii usually has a nurse plant in habitat, so when planting it in the garden, give it protection from frost and even the summer sun until it’s well acclimated. Supplemental water is usually not necessary, as long as we get the normal average rainfall over the year. If rains do not come, some water should be provided in summer, but be careful in winter. The M. grahamii does fine without water, and will shrivel, but it will plump up in the spring.
Found abundantly in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and east Texas, this Mammillaria species is, nevertheless, a protected species in Arizona and should not be disturbed. Severe penalties await anyone caught taking them from their native homes. Native plants that are subject to a high potential for damage by theft or vandalism become “Salvage Restricted” and require a Salvage permit signed by the landowner to remove them. They must have a tag and seal in transport. Developers call upon Cactus and Succulent Society local clubs to salvage protected cacti when developers begin clearing land. The clubs buy the tags and seals, and then sell the salvaged plants.
Sometimes you’ll see people at intersections in rural areas selling various items, such as produce and untagged native cacti. Purchasing protected cacti from these unlicensed vendors is risky, because more than likely they’ve surreptitiously removed the cacti from the open desert just to make a few fast bucks. If you buy it and someone asks to see a tag and seal and it has none, the fines can be tremendous. Ignorance is no excuse in the state of Arizona when it comes to its protected plants.