Monday, February 25, 2008

Ortegocactus macdougallii

For over a month, I’ve researched my various reference books, looking for the identity of this cactus. When I bought it, it didn’t have a nametag, and all my efforts to find its genus and species were fruitless. Then today, while attending our local Cactus and Succulent Society meeting, I saw another cactus just like mine, in my sister’s hand. She had just purchased it, and it had a nametag!

It is called Ortegocactus macdougallii, and it is a close relative of the Mammillaria genus. It grows in limestone rock crevices in its native Mexico. O. macdougallii isn’t the easiest cactus to grow. It is prone to root rot, and it needs an average minimum temperature of 60º F. Had I known all that, I probably would have passed it up. I don’t need any more finicky specimens!

I do think the gray-green epidermis is striking, especially with the black spines. Sometimes the cactus gets a reddish orange discoloration on the skin, which is normal and not a sign of pests or problems. You can see a small area of this discoloration in the photo. This cactus will remain small and will produce relatively large lemon-yellow flowers in spring. It clumps when it is mature. This one has already produced two new stems.

Soil recommendations for this cactus are complicated, but the one I purchased is in plain old cactus soil mix and it seems to be doing fine, so I’m not going to change a thing. Now that my sister has one too, we can see who can keep hers alive longer!


Ginni Dee said...

Oh my, that's an interesting cactus. They seem to come in so many different shapes and sizes. No wonder you like them so much!

GardenJoy4Me said...

I hope to see some pictures of the flowers from this scary looking cactus ! It looks like something from space ? LOL
I really like these posts since I doubt I will ever have these planst .. at least i can see and read about them !

barbara said...

Aiyana, I usually love all your cacti, but, uh, well, hmmm. Maybe this one not quite so much.

Poor cactus.

Peter said...

We add limestone to the soil for these. There are minerals they need that leech out of the limestone.

Pretty little bloom photos here:

verobirdie said...

beautiful cactus and funny story. I'm a bit wicked certainly, but if I had purchased this cactus, it would do well until I learnt it had special requirements. From that moment, problems would start, I guess. Anyway, I like it and it is always a great pleasure to discover your plants.

Curtis said...

What a interesting cactus. The spines look like cat whiskers.

bs said...

oh wow! what a striking cactus... we have a mammillaria, but it's not nearly as interesting. you have quite a collection!