Friday, November 9, 2007

More Than Just A Name

Stenocactus crispatus

Here is a cactus that needs water in the winter. It prefers sandy soil, so as long as the soil is fast draining, year round water works well for it. The Stenocactus crispatus, a northern Mexico native, has had about 30 names, but this genus and species name seems to be the latest. The other name frequently used is Echinofossulocactus lamellosus, and more often than not, nurseries call it by that name. Cactus growers and even collectors get tired of the constant renaming of cacti, so they just label it, as they know it.

The Stenocactus is related to the Ferocactus. Stenocactus that had previously been called Echinofossulocactus have a characteristic feature of many ribs, sometimes up to 100. This species can have 25 to 60 ribs, depending on age and variation. It will eventually reach four inches high with a diameter of two inches. Although this cactus doesn’t have a common name, others of its type are called “Brain Cacti” because of the wrinkled, wavy appearance of the ribs.

This easy care cactus is good for beginners. Although easily propagated by seed, this may produce plants with different characteristics than the parent plant. It flowers in May, and the flowers are white with a violet median dorsal stripe.

One source, 500 Cacti by Ken Preston-Mafham, suggests that if you like this genus, just forget about the names and purchase plants or seeds from a known origin and then write habitat details on labels to act as a name. Since it already has 30 names, what’s a few more?

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