Part 3 out of 4
Other species are: P. chrysomallus, which has a branching habit, P.
Bruennonii (Fig. 57), P. Celsianus, P. columna, P. tilophorus, known only
in a young state, and several others, all very remarkable plants, but
not known in English collections, unless, perhaps at Kew.
[Illustration: FIG. 57. PILOCEREUS BRUeNNONII.]
THE GENUS MAMILLARIA.
(From mamilla, a little teat; in allusion to the tubercles.)
Something over 300 different kinds of Mamillaria are known, but only a
small proportion of these may be considered as garden plants. They are
characterised generally by short, symmetrically-formed stems, sometimes
aggregated together and forming a dense tuft, but, as a rule, each plant
has only one stem. The generic name is descriptive of the chief feature
in these stems, namely, the closely-set, spirally-arranged tubercles or
mamillae, which vary considerably in the different kinds, but are always
present in some form or other. Some kinds have stems only 1 in. high by
2/3 in. in diameter, and the tubercles hidden from view by the
star-shaped cushions of reddish or white spines. In some, the spines are
erect and hair-like, giving the plant the appearance of tiny
sea-urchins; another group has the principal spines hooked at the tip,
and the points in these so sharp that if the hand comes in contact with
them they hook into it and stick like fish-hooks. The purpose of these
hooked spines seems doubtful; certainly, they cannot serve as any
protection to the plant itself, as they are so strong that the plant
must be torn up by the roots before the hooks will give way.
The spines in M. macromeris are straight, and measure 2 in. in length; in
M. multiceps they are in two series, the one fine, white, and short, the
other yellow and stout. The most marked section of this genus, however,
is that represented by M. fissurata (Fig. 61), in which the tubercles
are large, spreading horizontally, and angular, resembling most closely
the foliage and habit of some of the Haworthias. No one who had not read
up the botany of Mamillarias would suspect that this plant belonged to
them, or even to the Cactus order at all. There is a good specimen of it
in the Kew collection. When in flower the family resemblance is easily
seen; but as this species does not flower freely, it will be known by
its remarkable foliage-like tubercles, rather than as a flowering
Cactus. And the same remark applies to many of the Mamillarias; their
stems thickly beset with tubercles and spines, always regular in
arrangement, and neat and attractive in appearance.
The following remarks made by Dr. Lindley when describing M. tenuis,
give a good idea of the singular, yet pretty, stems of some of these
plants: "Gentle reader, hast thou never seen in a display of fireworks a
crowd of wheels all in motion at once, crossing and intersecting each
other in every direction; and canst thou fancy those wheels arrested in
their motion by some magic power--their rays retained, but their fires
extinguished and their brightness gone? Then mayst thou conceive the
curious beauty of this little herb--a plant so unlike all others that
we would fain believe it the reanimated spirit of a race that flourished
in former ages, with those hideous monsters whose bones alone remain to
tell the history of their existence." It is quite true that in the
cultivated Mamillarias there is nothing unsightly, or rough, or
unfinished. Without foliage, their stems globose, or short cylinders, or
arranged in little cushion-like tufts, and enveloped in silky spines,
like tiny red stars, always looking the same, except when in flower, and
never looking in the least like ordinary plants. Characters such as
these ought to find many admirers. In the Succulent House at Kew, there
is a long shelf upon which a great many plants of this genus may be
seen. But the flowers in some of the species of Mamillaria are quite as
attractive as the stems. Those of M. macromeris are 3 in. long and wide,
their colour a deep rose; M. Scheerii has equally large flowers, and
coloured bright yellow, as also are the flowers of M. pectinata. This
last is remarkable on account of the clock-like regularity with which
its flowers expand. While fresh, they open every day between eleven and
twelve o'clock, and close again about one, however strong the sunlight
shining upon them may be. Some of the kinds (more especially the
small-flowered ones) are often prettily studded over with bright red,
coral-like berries, which are the little fruits, and contain, as a rule,
matured seeds capable of reproducing the parent plant.
The headquarters of the genus Mamillaria is Mexico, and the countries
immediately to the north, a few being scattered over the West Indies,
Bolivia, Brazil, and Chili. Many of them grow on mountains where the
temperature is moderate, but where the sunlight is always intense.
Others are found on limestone or gravelly hills, among short herbage, or
on grassy prairies. A small silvery-spined kind has recently been found
near the snow line in Chili. M. vivipara is quite hardy in New York, as
also are several other kinds, whilst we learn that by planting them out
in summer, and protecting them by means of a frame from heavy rain,
dews, fogs, and sudden changes of weather, a good many species of both
Mamillaria and Echinocactus are successfully managed in the
neighbourhood of that town.
Cultivation.--Particulars with respect to cultivation are given along
with the descriptions of most of the species, but a few general
principles may here be noted. With only a few exceptions, all the
cultivated Mamillarias may be grown in a warm, sunny greenhouse, or they
may be placed in a frame with a south aspect, during our summer,
removing them into artificially heated quarters for the winter. They do
not like a large body of soil about their roots, but always thrive best
when in comparatively small pots. If a sweet, new, fibry loam, mixed
with broken bricks or cinders, be used to pot these plants in, they may
then be left undisturbed at the root for several years. Much harm is
often done to the more delicate kinds of Cactuses by repotting them
annually; the best-managed collection I have seen had not been repotted
for four years. This would not be safe if a poor and exhausted soil were
used in the first instance. The pots should be well drained with crocks,
and these covered with a layer of fibre sifted from loam. In summer, the
soil should be kept moist, but never saturated; and after a bright warm
day, the stems may be moistened over by syringing them with tepid water.
A point of much importance in connection with these, and indeed all
tropical and extra-tropical plants, is, that the water used for watering
or syringing them should be rain-water if possible, and never more than
a degree or so colder than the plants themselves would be. Thus, a plant
which had been standing in the full glare of a midsummer sun all day,
would be much endangered by watering it with cold tap-water. Where
proper arrangements for water are not made in a greenhouse or stove, it
is a good plan to place the water wanted for the day's use in the sun
along with the plants. A little bag filled with soot and tightly tied at
the neck, and water, is a good method for rendering hard tap-water
suitable for watering the roots of plants. In winter, Mamillarias may be
kept quite dry at the roots, except in mild sunny weather, when a little
water may be given.
A collection of the most distinct kinds may be successfully managed in a
glass case in a room window, providing the sun shines through it for a
few hours in the day.
Propagation.--This is usually effected by means of seeds, which may be
procured from Continental seedsmen as well as from our own. The
treatment required by the seeds is similar to what has been already
advised for those of other Cactuses. The tufted kinds are easily
multiplied by separating the stems, or even by cutting off the tops and
planting them in small pots of sandy soil.
SPECIES. The following kinds are selected from those known to be in
cultivation; of course, it is out of the question here to enumerate all
the species known.
M. angularis (angular-tubercled).--A robust kind, with stems 4 in. to
8 in. high, and branching somewhat freely; tubercles prism-shaped, rather
thick at the base, and slightly angular, 1/4 in. long, their tops tufted
with short white spines; at the base of the tubercles are little tufts
of white wool. Flowers are only rarely produced by cultivated plants;
they are small, tubular, rosy-purple, the stamens yellow. Introduced
from Mexico in 1835; flowers in summer. When happily situated, it forms
a specimen 1 ft. in diameter, owing to its freely produced arm-like
branches, which spread out and curve upwards. It requires a warm
greenhouse temperature during winter, and exposure to bright sunshine at
M. applanata (flattened).--In this, the stem is broader than high, and
has a squat appearance; tubercles 3/4 in. long, cone-shaped, with stellate
tufts of straight, hair-like spines, white when young, yellowish when
aged. Flowers springing from the outside of the stem-top, white, tinged
with red. It is a native of Mexico, and blossoms in summer. A specimen,
6 in. through at the base, may be seen at Kew, where it has been for many
years, without altering perceptibly in size. All the larger-stemmed
Mamillarias are exceedingly slow growers after they have reached a
certain size, although, in the seedling stage, they grow freely. The
treatment for this kind should resemble that advised for the last.
M. atrata (blackened).--Stem oval in shape, broad at the base, 4 in.
high, unbranched; tubercles swollen, 1/2 in. long, deep green, cone-shaped,
becoming flattened through pressure of growth. Spines set in a tuft of
white hairs, falling off from the lowest mammae, as happens in many of
the thick-stemmed kinds. Flowers numerous, and developed all round the
outside of the stem, stalkless, nestling closely between the tubercles,
and when expanded looking like starry buttons of a rosy-pink colour.
Native of Chili, flowering in autumn. This species is rare in England,
but is worth attention because of the prettiness of its flowers, the
attractive form of its stem, and its reputed hardiness. It will thrive
in a cold frame, and requires protection from excessive wet only, rather
than from cold. Grown in a warm house, it becomes sickly, and is
M. bicolor (two-coloured).--One of the commonest of the Cactuses grown
in English gardens, and one of the most distinct, owing to its short,
silvery hair-like spines, thickly crowded on the ends of the small
tubercles, completely hiding the stem from view. The latter is from 6 in.
to 1 ft. high, 3 in. in diameter, cylindrical, often branching into
several thick arms, when it has a quaint appearance. If kept free from
dust, which may be done by covering the plant with a bell glass, there
is much beauty in the stem; indeed, it is owing to this, rather than as
a flowering Cactus, that this species finds favour as a garden plant.
The flowers are less than 1 in. in length and width, stellate, their
colour deep purple; they are developed in June. Although a native of
elevated regions in Mexico (4000-5000 ft.), this plant thrives best when
grown in a warm house. There are several handsome and very old specimens
of it in the tropical collection of succulents at Kew. It is one of the
easiest to manage, and will thrive in a warm room-window if exposed to
bright sunlight and kept dry in winter. M. nivea and M. nobilis are both
varieties of this species.
M. chlorantha (greenish-yellow).--A newly-introduced species with
erect, cylinder-shaped stems, 6 in. high, clothed with numerous
tubercles, which are tipped with clusters of long, silvery, interlacing,
hair-like spines, and a few stouter blackish ones. The flowers are
described as greenish-yellow, so that they are not likely to add much to
the beauty of the plant, which is recommended because of the
attractiveness of its stem and spines. It is a native of Mexico and
Texas, whence it was introduced some two years ago. It requires
cool-house treatment, and should be kept free from dust, which
disfigures the white spines.
M. cirrhifera (twisted).--Like M. bicolor, this species owes its
frequent occurrence in gardens to the symmetry and neatly-chiselled form
of its stems, and not to any attraction possessed by its flowers. It
will thrive anywhere where the sun can shine upon it, if sheltered from
severe cold and wet. In a cottage window it may be grown, and kept for
many years, without losing health or, on the other hand, increasing much
in size. Its usual height is about 5 in., by 4 in. in diameter. The
tubercles are angular at the base, and bear tufts of yellowish spines on
their pointed apices. The flowers are small, and bright rose-coloured,
but only rarely produced on cultivated plants. Introduced from Mexico in
M. clava (club-shaped); Bot. Mag. 4358.--In the size of its stem, and
the large, brightly-coloured flowers it bears, this species may be
compared with some of the Echinocactuses. The stem is from 1 ft. to 11/2 ft.
high, 4 in. wide at the base, narrowing slightly upwards; the tubercles
are 1 in. long, and nearly as much through at the base, their shape that
of little pyramids, and their tips bear each from eight to eleven stout,
straight spines, pale brown, with a little wool at the base. The flowers
are borne on the top of the stem, two or three of them together; the
sepals are green and red, and the spreading petals are straw-coloured
and glossy, their edges near the top being toothed. In the centre of the
shallow cup formed by the petals, and which measures nearly 4 in. across,
the orange-coloured stamens are clustered, in a kind of disk, through
the middle of which the yellow stigma projects. It is a native of
Mexico, at an altitude of 5000 ft. Introduced in 1848, when it flowered
at Kew, in June, at which time it flowers almost every year now. A warm
greenhouse affords the most suitable conditions for it; but, unless it
is kept in full sunshine both summer and winter, and perfectly dry
during the latter season, it will not produce any flowers. As a
flowering plant, it ranks amongst the very best of the Mamillarias. It
is easily propagated from seeds ripened on cultivated plants.
M. dasyacantha (thick-spined).--Stem 2 in. to 3 in. high, almost
globular, and covered with spiral whorls of tiny tubercles, in the
grooves of which is a little whitish wool, which falls away as the
tubercles ripen. The spines upon the tubercles are arranged in little
stars, with an erect central one. The flowers are small, and spring from
the centre of the stem. This is one of the Thimble Cactuses, and is too
small to have any great attractions, either in stem or flowers. It is,
however, a pretty plant, especially when studded with its ruby-like
flowers, which look like coloured Daisies growing upon a dense tuft of
hairs. It is a native of Mexico, where it grows on high mountains among
short grass and other herbage.
M. discolor (spines two-coloured).--Stem globose, about 4 in. in
diameter; tubercles smooth, egg-shaped, their bases embedded in white
wool, their tips crowned with stellate tufts of short, reddish spines.
Flowers numerous, and borne from almost all parts of the stem, less than
1 in. wide, and composed of a single whorl of narrow, reflexed,
rose-purple petals, surrounding a large, disk-like cluster of yellow
stamens. The flowers are so short that they are half hidden by the
tubercles. It is a native of Mexico, where it grows on rocks, in warm,
sheltered places. Under cultivation it thrives when grown on a dry shelf
in a warm house, and kept moist in summer, but perfectly dry in winter.
M. dolichocentra (long-spurred); Fig. 58.--Apparently this is a
variable species; at all events, plants of widely different habit are
found under this name, one of them represented in the Figure here,
another in the Garden, Vol. XVII., whilst others are figured or
described in other books. What is known at Kew as the true plant is that
here figured. This has a stout stem, about 8 in. high and 3 in. wide, and
covered with smooth cone-shaped mammae, with woolly bases and stellate
tufts of spines on their tips. The flowers are produced about 1 in. from
the top of the stem, and are less than 1 in. wide; they are, however,
often very numerous, sometimes a closely-set ring of them surrounding
the stem, like a daisy chain, their colour being pale purple. Below the
flowers there is often a whorl of club-shaped fruits, 3/4 in. long, and
rose-coloured. These contain numerous little black seeds, which, when
ripe, may be sown in pots of very sandy loam. The plant is a native of
Mexico, and flowers in summer. It thrives in a tropical temperature, and
enjoys a daily syringing overhead on bright days in summer, but in
winter requires little or no water.
[Illustration: FIG. 58. MAMILLARIA DOLICHOCENTRA.]
M. echinata (hedgehog-like).--A charming little plant, with very small
stems, clustered together in a cushion-like tuft, each stem less than
1 in. wide; but a well-grown specimen is composed of dozens of these,
packed almost one on top of the other. The tubercles are hidden by the
star-like spine clusters which cap them, and look like a swarm of
insects. Flowers very small, rose-coloured, and lasting only about a
day. These are succeeded by numerous currant-like red berries, so
numerous, in fact, that the plants look as if thickly studded all over
with coral beads. The central stem is sometimes about 6 in. high, those
surrounding it being shorter and shorter, till the outside ones rise
only just above the soil. A well-grown plant of this is strikingly
pretty, even when not in fruit. It is a native of Mexico, and requires
the treatment of a warm house. A few pieces of broken brick should be
placed upon the surface of the soil about the base of the plant, as the
stems like to press against, or grow upon, anything in the nature of
M. echinus (hedgehog-like); Fig. 59.--A distinct and pretty little
plant, the largest specimen having a stem about the size and shape of a
small hen's-egg, completely hidden under the densely interwoven radial
spines, which crown the thirteen spiral rows of tubercles, and are
almost white when mature. The tubercles are 1/2 in. long, and, in addition
to these white radiating spines, they also bear each a stout spike-like
spine, growing from the centre of the others. This spine gives the plant
an appearance quite distinct from all other cultivated Mamillarias. The
flowers are produced two or three together, on the top of the stem, and
they are nearly 2 in. long, cup-shaped, and coloured yellow; they usually
appear about June. As yet this species is rare in cultivated
collections. It comes from Mexico, where it is found growing on
limestone hills, in hot and arid localities. Under cultivation it
requires a warm greenhouse temperature, exposure to bright sunshine all
the year round, with a moderate supply of water in summer, and none at
all during winter. A few large pieces of broken brick or sandstone
placed in the soil, just under the base of the stem, afford the roots
conditions suitable to their healthy growth.
[Illustration: FIG. 59. MAMILLARIA ECHINUS.]
M. elegans (elegant).--A small species, grown only for the prettiness
of its stem, flowers rarely, if ever, being borne by it under
cultivation. The stem is 2 in. high and wide, globose, with small conical
tubercles, which, when young, are woolly at the tips. Spines short and
slender, about twenty, arranged in a star on each tubercle, with four
central ones a little longer than those which surround them; the colour
of the spines is whitish, with brown tips. Native country Mexico, on
high exposed hills; in this country it requires greenhouse treatment.
Introduced about 1850.
M. elephantidens (elephant's-tooth); Fig. 60.--One of the largest and
most remarkable of all garden Mamillarias. Stem globose, depressed, 6 in.
to 8 in. in diameter, and bright shining green. Tubercles smooth, round,
11/2 in. long, furrowed across the top, which is at first filled with wool,
but when old is naked. At the base of the tubercles there is a dense
tuft of white wool, and springing from the furrows are eight radiating
recurved spines, and three short central ones, all strong, stiff, and
ivory-white, tipped with brown. The flowers are 3 in. wide, and are
composed of a circle of violet-coloured sepals, with white margins, and
a second circle of petals which are bright rose, pale purple at the
base, a line of the same colour extending all down the middle. The
stamens are numerous, with long purple filaments and yellow anthers, and
the pistil is stout, erect, projecting above the stamens, with a
radiating stigma. Flowers in autumn; native country, Paraguay. Under
cultivation, it grows quicker than is usual with plants of this genus,
and it is also exceptional in the regular and abundant production of its
flowers. It has been a rarity in European collections for many years,
and, although easily grown, it is often killed through wrong treatment.
A cool greenhouse or sunny frame in summer, plenty of water whilst
growth is active, and a light, well-drained soil, suit it best; whilst
during winter it must be kept perfectly dry, and protected only from
frost. In a tropical house, it is invariably sickly, and altogether
[Illustration: FIG. 60. MAMILLARIA ELIPHANTIDENS.]
M. elongata (elongated).--A small, cushion-like kind, with the stems in
tufts, owing to their producing offsets freely from the base, the
tallest of them being about as high and as thick as a man's thumb. The
tubercles are short, crowded, and hidden under the star-clusters of
reddish-yellow spines. There are no central spines in this kind. The
flowers are produced in the axils of the tubercles from all parts of the
stem, a large tuft of stems being thickly studded with circles of tawny
yellow petals, which are only about 1/2 in. long. The berries are bright
coral-red, and about the size of a date stone. There are several
varieties of this species, under the names of intertexta, rufescens,
rutila, subcrocea, and supertexta. These differ only slightly either in
the length or thickness of the stems or in the colour of the spines. All
of them may be grown in a cold frame, or in a window where the sun can
shine upon them; or they may be grown along with tropical kinds. For
small cases in windows, these little Thimble Cactuses are amongst the
most suitable. They are natives of high mountains in Mexico, and have
been cultivated in Europe over forty years.
M. fissurata (fissured); Fig. 61.--In appearance, this rare species
mimics some of the Gasterias, and is so different from all the kinds
hitherto described, that very few people unacquainted with it would
suspect that it belonged to the same genus as M. elongata or M.
dolichocentra. Indeed, some botanists have made a separate genus of this
and several other plants of the same peculiar appearance, calling them
Anhalonium. M. fissurata is like a whip-top in shape, the root being
thick and woody, and the tubercles arranged in a thick layer, spreading
from the centre, rosette-like. A living plant in the Kew collection is
2 in. high by 4 in. wide, the tubercles being triangular in shape, 1/2 in.
thick, wrinkled, with an irregular furrow on the upper surface. The
flowers grow from the middle of the stem, and are 11/2 in. wide, and
rose-coloured. Native of Mexico, on hard gravel or limestone soils. We
know of no plant in English collections, except that at Kew, which was
introduced from Mexico in 1886. It flowers in September and October.
[Illustration: FIG. 61. MAMILLARIA FISSURATA.]
M. floribunda (free-flowering).--A French writer on Cactuses, M.
Labouret, calls this a species of Echinocactus, but it resembles so
closely another species included by him in Mamillaria, viz., M. atrata,
that we see no good reason for separating the two into different genera.
M. floribunda has an irregular conical stem, about 5 in. high by 4 in.
wide at the base, round nut-like tubercles the size of filberts, crowned
with star-tufts of spines 3/4 in. long, stiff, and brown, about ten spines
being set with their bases in a small disc-like pad of dirty-white wool.
The flowers are very numerous, covering the whole of the stem-top, from
which they stand erect, so as to form a dense bouquet of rose-coloured
petals. Each flower is 2 in. long. Native of Chili; introduced about
1835. Flowers in summer. This handsome kind will thrive in a window,
and, if well supplied with fresh air, sunshine, and sufficient water to
keep the soil moist, it will flower almost every year. It must have no
water in winter.
M. gracilis (slender).--A small Thimble Cactus, remarkable for its
proliferous stems, a single stem 2 in. high producing all round its upper
half numerous, offshoots, which fall to the ground and grow. In this way
a tuft of stems is soon developed round the first one. If these
offshoots are removed as they appear, the stem will grow longer and
stouter than it does when they are left. Tubercles small, green,
crowded; spines in a stellate tuft, short, curved, pale yellow or white.
Flowers as in M. elongata, to which this species is closely allied. In
window cases, or on a shelf in a cool greenhouse, it will grow and
multiply rapidly. Like the bulk of the caespitose, or Thimble Cactuses,
it does not make much show when in flower; and it is only its stems,
with their white stars of spines and clusters of little offsets hanging
about them, that are attractive. Native of Mexico; introduced about
1850. There is a variety known as pulchella, in which the spines are of
a yellow hue.
M. Grahami (Graham's).--A pretty little species, with globose stems,
scarcely 3 in. high, and nearly the same in diameter, branching sometimes
when old; tubercles 1/4 in. long, egg-shaped, corky when old, and
persistent. Spines in tufts of about twenty, all radiating except one in
the centre, which is hooked; they are about 1/2 in. long. Flowers 1 in.
long, usually produced in a circle round the stem. Fruit a small, oval
berry, 1/2 in. long. This is a native of Colorado, in mountainous regions.
It is very rare in cultivation. The flowers are developed in June and
M. Haageana (Haage's); Fig. 62.--The habit of this is shown in the
Figure, which is reduced to about one-fourth the natural size. As the
stem gets older, it becomes more elongated. Tubercles small, four-sided
at the base, pointed at the top, where the spines are arranged in a
star, about twenty of them on each tubercle, with two central ones,
which are longer, stiffer, and much darker in colour than those on the
outside; flowers small, almost hidden beneath the spines, bright
carmine-rose; they are produced on the sides of the upper portion of the
stem in June. There is a close resemblance between this and M.
cirrhifera, and the treatment for both should be the same. Mexico, 1835.
[Illustration: FIG. 62. MAMILLARIA HAAGEANA.]
M. longimamma (long-tubercled); Fig. 63.--A well-marked species in the
size of its mammae, or tubercles, which are at least 1 in. long by 1/3 in.
in diameter, terete, slightly curved, and narrowed to a pointed apex,
the texture being very soft and watery. Each tubercle bears a radiating
tuft of about twelve spines, one central and projecting outwards; they
are pale brown when old, and white when young; their length is about
1/2 in. A tuft of short, white wool is developed at the base of the spines
on the young mammae. The stem is seldom more than 4 in. in height, and it
branches at the base when old. Flowers large and handsome,
citron-yellow; the tube short, and hidden in the mammae; the petals
11/2 in. long, narrow, pointed, and all directed upwards; stamens numerous,
short. Flowering season, early summer. Native country, Mexico. It
requires greenhouse treatment, or it may be placed in a sunny frame out
of doors during summer. It is not easily multiplied from seeds, but is
free in the production of offsets from the base of the stem.
[Illustration: FIG. 63. MAMILLARIA LONGIMAMMA.]
M. macromeris (large-flowered); Fig. 64.--Stem about 4 in. high, naked
at the base, woody and wrinkled when old. Tubercles as in M. longimamma,
but with curving radial spines, like needles, often 2 in. in length,
white or rose-tinted when young, almost black when old. Flowers from the
centre of the stem, 3 in. long, and about the same in width; the petals
regular and spreading, as in the Ox-eye daisy; stamens numerous, short,
forming a disk; colour carmine, almost purple just before fading.
Flowering season, August. Native of Mexico, where it is found in loose,
sand on hillocks, generally about the roots of Acacias. It is one of the
most beautiful of all Mamillarias; but it is, as yet, rare in
collections. It requires the same treatment as M. longimamma, except
that, owing to the woody nature of its rootstock, and its long, tap-like
roots, it should be planted in pans instead of pots, using a compost of
rough loam, mixed with lumps of broken brick or limestone.
[Illustration: FIG. 64. MAMILLARIA MACROMERIS.]
M. macrothele (large-nippled); Bot. Mag. 3634, as M. Lehmanni.--This
belongs to the same group as M. cirrhifera, but is distinguished by its
large mammae, which are four-angled at the base, 3/4 in. long, narrowed to
a point, upon which is a tuft of wool and a cluster of about eight
spines, 1/2 in. long, spreading, reddish-brown in colour, the central one
being almost black, 1 in. long, and pointing downwards. In the axils of
the mammae are tufts of white wool. Flowers on the top of the stern,
erect, spreading, about 11/2 in. across when expanded; the petals
overlapping, and pale yellow; the stamens red at the base, arranged in a
dense cluster, and the rays of the stigma spreading over them. Flowering
time, early summer. Native country, Mexico, on prairie lands, at high
elevations. This species is almost hardy in the warmer parts of this
country, suffering from damp rather than frost in winter. The stem is
not particularly handsome, but the flowers are large and bright, and
they are produced annually by plants which are grown in a cool,
well-aired greenhouse or frame, with the sun shining on them all day.
M. micromeris (small-flowered); Fig. 65.--A small, cushion-like plant,
with a stem never more than 11/2 in. across by about 1 in. in height, so
that it has the appearance of a small, flattened ball, with a raised,
disk-like portion on the top. The mammae are very small, and they are
completely hidden by the numerous fine, white, silky spines and wool
which spring in tufts from the apex of each mamma, and interlace so as
to form a spider-web-like net all over the stem. The flowers are small,
and they spring from the centre of the disk-like top of the stern; they
are composed of from three to five sepals, and five petals, which are
whitish or pink, and measure about 1/4 in. across when open. Native
country, Mexico, where it is found only in naked places on mountain tops
or sides where limestone is plentiful. It requires much care under
cultivation, water in excess being fatal to it, and a soil of the wrong
sort soon killing all its roots. It is cultivated at Kew in a small pot,
in a mixture of loam and lime rubbish, and grown in a warm greenhouse.
[Illustration: FIG. 65. MAMILLARIA MICROMERIS.]
M. multiceps (many-branched).--Stem short, with numerous branches,
which again push forth other branches, so that a dense tuft of dumpy,
globose stems is formed. The mammae are small, and arranged closely
together, and they each bear a tuft of whitish wool, with a radiating
cluster of spines, which are soft, almost hair-like in texture, the
inner ones being stiffer, and coloured dull yellow. The flowers are
small, and almost hidden by the spines and tubercles; they are pale
yellow, with a line of red down the middle of each petal. Native
country, Mexico. This plant should be grown on a shelf in a cool
greenhouse--anything like a stove temperature being fatal to it. As a
flowering plant it is of no value, but the compact tuft formed by its
numerous stems, with their attractive spines, renders it worthy of
M. Neumanniana (Neumann's).--This is a member of the group with angular
tubercles and comparatively small flowers. It has a stem about 6 in.
high, cylindrical, the tubercles arranged spirally, their bases
compressed, four or five-angled, and with a tuft of white wool in their
axils. The areoles or tufts on the tops of the mammae are large, and the
spines are about seven in number, 1/2 in. long, and of a tawny-yellow
colour. The flowers are produced near the top of the stem; they are
about 1/2 in. long, and rose-red in colour. Native country, Mexico. It
requires the same treatment as M. cirrhifera.
M. Ottonis (Ottoni's); Fig. 66.--A very distinct and pretty plant is
cultivated under the name at Kew; but there are, apparently, two
different species under the same name--the one being spiny and large in
the stem; the other, which is here shown, having a small, compressed
stem, 3 in. across, numerous compressed tubercles, and short, hair-like
spines. The flowers, which are large for the size of the plant, are
white, and are developed in May and June. Native country, Mexico;
introduced in 1834. It requires similar treatment to M. micromeris.
[Illustration: FIG. 66. MAMILLARIA OTTONIS.]
M. pectinata (comb-like); Fig. 67.--Stems globose, from 2 in. to 3 in. in
diameter; the rootstock woody; the tubercles arranged in about thirteen
spiral rows, swollen at the base, and bearing each a star-like tuft of
about twenty-four stiff, brown, radial spines, without a central one;
the length varies from 1/2 in. to 1 in., and they are comb-like in their
regular arrangement. When not in flower, this species bears a close
resemblance to small plants of Cereus pectinatus. Flowers terminal,
solitary, large, their width quite 3 in. when fully expanded; sepals
reddish-green; petals rich sulphur-yellow; filaments reddish, very
numerous; the flowers open at noon, and close after about two hours,
even although the sun be shining full upon them. Flowering season, June
to August. Native country, Mexico, on slopes of limestone hills.
Although long since known to botanists, this pretty species has only
lately found its way into English gardens. It is attractive even when
not in flower. It requires warm greenhouse treatment, with exposure to
full sunshine; during late autumn it should have plenty of air to ripen
the new growth made whilst flowering. In winter it should have a dry
position near the glass.
[Illustration: FIG. 67. MAMILLARIA PECTINATA.]
M. phellosperma (corky-seeded).--A pretty plant, resembling M. Grahami
in all points except the seed, which, as is denoted by the name, is half
enveloped in a corky covering, suggesting acorns. Stems simple,
sometimes proliferous at the base, globose when young, afterwards almost
cylinder or pear-shaped, 5 in. high, 2 in. in diameter; tubercles 1/2 in.
long, arranged in twelve spiral rows, slightly woolly in axils. Spines
radiating, in two rows, about fifty on each tubercle, the three or four
central ones being hooked at the tips or sometimes straight; length,
1/2 in. to 11/2 in. Flowers (only seen in the dried state) 1 in. long and wide.
Native of the dry gravelly hills and sand ridges in California and
Colorado, and, therefore, requiring greenhouse treatment. This plant is
cultivated in the Kew collection, but it has not been known to flower
there. It is one of the most ornamental of the very spinous species, the
radial spines being almost white, whilst the central ones are black, and
look like tiny fish-hooks. A large proportion of these Mamillarias are
far more interesting in the form and arrangement of their tubercles and
spines than in any floral character, and it is on this account that so
many which are insignificant as flowering plants are included here.
M. pulchra (handsome).--Stem globose when young and cylindrical when
old, flattened at the top; height from 4 in. to 6 in.; tubercles large,
egg-shaped, arranged in from eleven to thirteen spiral rows; spines in
compact tufts, their bases set in whitish wool, irregular in length, and
almost covering the whole of the stem. Flowers medium in size, developed
near the top of the stem from the woolly axils of the tubercles; colour
bright rose. Native of Mexico. Flowering season, June. Introduced in
1826. A rare kind nowadays, though one of the prettiest. It should
always be grown in a warm house. It has been also called M. pulcherrima.
M. pusilla (small).--A tiny tufted plant, belonging to the group known
as Thimble Cactuses. It has stems 2 in. high; short, dark green
tubercles, with tufts of whitish wool in the axils; spines thin and
bristle-like, twisted, nearly 1 in. long, almost hiding the stem; they
are whitish, with black tips. The flowers are yellowish-white, with
streaks of red. Common in Mexico. Flowering season, May. It should be
grown in a frame in summer, and wintered on a shelf in a warm
greenhouse. It would, no doubt, thrive in a window if kept in a sunny
position and placed under a glass shade. A variety known as texana
differs in being more densely clothed with spines. We have seen it grown
into large clumps, covering a space 1 ft. in diameter, with dozens of
erect little pyramids of whitish spines.
M. pycnacantha (densely spined); Bot. Mag. 3972.--The name for this
kind is rather misleading, the spines being both fewer and less
conspicuous than in many other species of Mamillaria. Stem about 6 in.
high, nearly globose; tubercles--rather large, swollen, with tufts of
short white wool in their axils, and stellate clusters of spines
springing from disks of white wool on the top. The spines are 1/2 in. long,
slightly recurved, flattened, and pale brown. Flowers large, clustered
on the top of the stem, about half a dozen opening together; width 2 in.;
petals numerous, narrow, toothed at the tips, spreading; colour a deep
sulphur-yellow, anthers orange. Native of Oaxaca, Mexico. Flowering
season, July. Introduced 1840. This is a beautiful flowering plant, more
like an Echinocactus than a Mamillaria. It should be grown in a warm
greenhouse all the year round. Old stems develop offsets from the base,
by which the species may be multiplied.
M. sanguinea (bloody); Fig. 68.--This is closely related to M. bicolor,
but differs in having an unbranched stem and numerous richly-coloured
flowers. The stem is stout, 6 in. high, and 4 in. through; tubercles
crowded, short, bearing stellate tufts of shortish spines, and
projecting longer ones, all being bristly and pale yellow, except those
on the youngest tubercles, which are golden. The flowers are borne in a
crowded circle on the top of the stem, just outside the cluster of young
yellow spines, a strong plant having about forty flowers open together.
Each flower is about 1/2 in. long and wide, and coloured bright crimson,
with yellow anthers. Native of Mexico. Flowers in June. It should be
grown along with M. bicolor. The plant figured is a young one, showing
the spines much longer than is usual on mature specimens.
[Illustration: FIG. 68. MAMILLARIA SANGUINEA.]
M. Scheerii (Scheer's).--Stem 7 in. high, and 5 in. in diameter at the
base; tubercles large, swollen, somewhat flattened, pale green, watery,
woolly in the axils, the tops crowned with about a dozen brown spines,
1 in. long, one central, the others radial. Flowers terminal, erect, with
several whorls of spreading, recurved petals, the lower ones tinged with
crimson, the upper pale yellow, and forming a shallow cup, 2 in. across;
anthers forming a compact sheaf in the centre. Flowers in summer. This
distinct and very pretty species was introduced many years ago from
Mexico, where it was discovered in 1845 by a Mr. Potts, to whose love
for these plants we are indebted for a great many choice kinds collected
and sent to England by him. It grows naturally in a red, sandy loam, and
under cultivation requires warm-house treatment, except during the
autumn, when it may be placed in a frame and exposed to full sunshine
and plenty of air.
M. Schelhasii (Schelhas').--A pretty little tufted kind, its habit and
size being shown in Fig. 69. The stem produces offsets freely at the
base, which grow into full-sized stems, and develop young ones, till a
compact cushion is formed. Tubercles closely arranged, cylindrical,
shining green, with fifteen to twenty radial, white, hair-like spines,
1/2 in. long, and three inner ones, which are thicker, purplish in colour,
usually only one being hooked. Flowers white, with a line of rose down
the middle of each petal, 3/4 in. across. Flowering season, beginning of
summer. Native of Mexico. It may be grown out of doors in a sunny
position in summer, and wintered on a shelf in a greenhouse.
[Illustration: FIG. 69. MAMILLARIA SCHELHASII.]
M. Schiedeana (Schiede's).--Stem globose, 3 in. to 5 in. high, thickly
clothed with long, narrow, pointed tubercles, the bases of which are set
in white wool, whilst the apices are crowned with tiny stars of white
silky spines; more like the pappus of a Composite than the spines
usually found on Cactuses. A healthy plant has a very pretty and silky
appearance which cannot well be described. The flowers are small and
unattractive; they are succeeded by the red fruits, which remain on the
plant a long time, and add to its beauty. Native country, Mexico.
Introduced 1838. Should be grown in a greenhouse where frost is
excluded, and where there is plenty of sunlight at all times. It is
easily increased, either from seeds or by means of the offsets developed
at the base of old stems.
M. semperviva (ever-living); Fig. 70.--Stem pear-shaped, 3 in. wide, the
top slightly depressed. Tubercles conical, 1/4 in. long, their bases set in
a cushion of white wool, their tips bearing tiny tufts of wool, and four
small spines, which fall away on the tubercles becoming ripe, leaving
two short, diverging, central spines. Flowers small, not ornamental, and
scantily developed near the outside of the top. Native of Mexico; in
meadows and thickets near Zimapan, at 5000 ft. elevation. It thrives with
us when grown in a frame in summer, and wintered in a cool greenhouse or
[Illustration: FIG. 70. MAMILLARIA SEMPERVIVA.]
M. senilis (hoary).--Stem about 3 in. high, spherical, unbranched,
except when very old, when it becomes proliferous at the base; tubercles
crowded, small, arranged spirally, and crowned with clusters of long,
radiating spines, which are almost white, hair-like, and become thickly
interwoven, as in the Old Man Cactus (Pilocereus senilis). The central
spine is black, and hooked at the tip. Flowers on the top of the stem,
near the centre; the petals toothed, spreading, and forming a deep cup,
with a cluster of tall stamens standing erect in the middle; colour
bright scarlet. The flowers, which appear in summer, remain open about
eight hours. Native country unknown; cultivated in France in 1845. This
plant is difficult to preserve in health, the best method being that of
grafting it on to a short Cereus, or a robust kind of Mamillaria, such
as M. cirrhifera. It is a pretty plant at all times, even when dead, for
we have seen plants of it preserve the appearance of live specimens long
after they have rotted and dried up in the centre, nothing remaining but
the shell formed by the skin and silvery spines. There is a close
resemblance between this species and M. Grahami.
M. stella-aurata (golden star).--This little plant obtains its name
from the rich golden-yellow of its stellate clusters of spines, which
are arranged thickly on the tips of the small, pointed tubercles. It
belongs to the group called Thimble Cactuses, of which it is one of the
prettiest. The stems are tufted, branching freely at the base, and
rising to a height of about 2 in. Flowers small, whitish, and much less
ornamental than the berry-like fruits which succeed them, and which are
egg-shaped, 1/2 in. long, and a deep rose-colour. M. tenuis is a variety of
this, with almost white spines. Native of Mexico. Introduced 1835. May
be cultivated under a bell-glass in a room window, the only danger being
damp during winter, which must be carefully avoided.
M. sub-polyhedra (usually many-sided); Fig. 71.--Stem simple till it
becomes old, when it develops offsets at the base, broadly cylindrical,
8 in. high, 5 in. in diameter. Tubercles four-sided at base, prism-shaped,
bearing pads of white wool in the corners at the base, and crowned with
tufts of from four to seven spines, usually all radial, sometimes one
central. The flowers, which usually appear in May, are arranged in a
zone on the top of the old stems; sepals greenish-yellow, petals bright
red. Fruit 1 in. long, pear-shaped, scarlet. Native of South Mexico, at
high elevations. It may be grown outside in summer, and wintered in a
heated greenhouse or frame. This is a singular-looking plant, the
tubercles having an appearance suggestive of carving. It is a slow
grower, and requires careful attention in winter, when sometimes the
roots all perish and the base of the stem rots.
[Illustration: FIG. 71. MAMILLARIA SUB-POLYHEDRA.]
M. sulcolanata (woolly-grooved); Fig. 72.--Stem simple when young,
proliferous at the sides when old, the young plants developing from the
apices of the tubercles, and not in the axils, as is usual. The
tubercles are nut-shaped, large, the bases surrounded by white wool, the
points bearing eight to ten rigid, brown spines, all radiating from a
little pad of wool. Flowers large, nearly 2 in. across, bright yellow,
poppy-scented, the spread of the petals suggesting Paris Daisies; they
are freely developed on the apex of the stem in June, and on till
August. Fruit egg-shaped, glaucous-green. Native country, South Mexico;
introduced 1836. This charming little plant should be grown in a frame
exposed to full sunshine all summer, and removed to a shelf in a warm
greenhouse in winter. With such treatment it grows and flowers freely.
Grafted on to a Cereus or Opuntia it is healthier than when on its own
[Illustration: FIG. 72. MAMILLARIA SULCOLANATA.]
M. tetracantha (four-spined); Bot. Mag. 4060.--Stem the size and shape
of an ostrich's egg, thickly studded with small, conical tubercles,
woolly at the base, the apices bearing each four spreading spines, 3/4 in.
long, rather stout, straight, brown when young, becoming almost white
with age. Flowers numerous, small, arranged as in M. sanguinea, to which
and M. cirrhifera this species is closely related. They are bright rose
in colour, with orange-yellow anthers, and are developed in July. Native
of Mexico. Requires the same treatment as M. cirrhifera.
M. tuberculosa (tubercled).--This is a very pretty and distinct plant,
of recent introduction, and easily cultivated. It has a central stem,
6 in. high by 2 in. in diameter, conical in shape, and surrounded at the
base by globose branches or offsets. The tubercles are closely set in
numerous spiral rows, and are 1/2 in. long, rather narrow, pointed, with a
crown of radial spines, very slender, hair-like, white, and 1/2 in. long;
central spines three or four, 1/2 in. long. At the base of each tubercle is
a pea-like tuft of white wool. In this kind the spines fall from the old
tubercles, which are persistent, gradually hardening to a cork-like
substance. The flowers are produced in the apex of the stem, and are
1 in. long and wide, daisy-like, pale purple in colour; they are
succeeded by red, oval berries, which are as pretty as the flowers.
About five flowers are developed on each stem annually--May and June.
Native of Mexico, in the mountains. It thrives when grown in an ordinary
greenhouse, on a shelf, in full sunshine.
M. turbinata (top-shaped); Bot. Mag. 3984.--Stem globose, depressed at
top, about 3 in. in diameter, pale glaucous-green; tubercles
quadrangular, flattened at the apex, and bearing, when young, from three
to five erect, slender, hair-like spines, which fall off soon after the
tubercles ripen, exposing little depressions or umbilica, and giving the
stem a bald, pudding-like appearance, quite distinct from any other
kind. Flowers from the centre of the stem, short, about 1 in. across,
pale yellow, with a reddish tint outside; anthers yellow. Two or three
flowers are usually expanded together in the month of June. Native
M. uncinata (hooked).--Stem globose, simple, about 4 in. in diameter;
tubercles closely pressed against each other at the base, where they are
four-angled; in length they are 1/4 in., and they are blue-green in colour.
Apex bearing four short spines, arranged crosswise, and 1/4 in. long;
central spine slightly longer, yellow, and hooked. The flowers are 1 in.
long and wide, erect, the tube hidden by the young mammae, amongst
which they appear in May and June; they are purple in colour, a line of
deeper tint running down the middle of each petal. Like all the kinds
with short, angular tubercles, this species is easily managed, flowers
freely and profusely, and always ripens seeds. Native of Mexico. It may
be grown in a frame, or even out of doors, all through the summer,
removing it to a greenhouse for the winter.
M. vetula (old).--One of the small Thimble Cactuses, its stems seldom
exceeding 3 in. in height by 11/2 in. in diameter. Tubercles 1/4 in. long,
conical, with a radial crown of fine, hair-like yellow spines, 1/4 in.
long, and a solitary central spine, 1/2 in. in length, and coloured red.
Flowers terminal, just peeping above the tubercles; sepals and petals
acute, yellow, 3/4 in. long; anthers yellow; stigma white. An old garden
plant, introduced from Mexico. It flowers in May and June. For its
cultivation it may be treated as recommended for M. pusilla.
M. villifera (hair-bearing).--Stem similar to the last, but usually
proliferous at the base; tubercles angular, short, woolly in the axils,
and bearing four rigid, short, reddish-brown spines on the apex. Flowers
pale rose, with a line of purple down the middle of each petal; they are
developed near the top of the stem, in May. Native country, Mexico. This
plant thrives if treated as recommended for M. pusilla. There are
several varieties known, distinguished by their paler or darker flowers,
or by a difference in the length and arrangement of the spines.
M. viridis (green).--Stem 4 in. high by 3 in. in diameter, proliferous at
the base; tubercles short, four-angled, crowded in spiral rows, woolly
at the base, bearing each five or six radiating hair-like spines on the
apex, and one central erect one, none more than 1/4 in. long. Flowers
erect, on top of stem, with recurved, pale yellow petals, 1 in., long;
they are produced in May and June. Introduced from Mexico in 1850. It
may be grown in a sunny frame out of doors during summer, and on a dry,
warm greenhouse shelf in winter.
M. vivipara (stem--sprouting).--A tufted, free-growing Thimble Cactus,
producing its small stems in such profusion as to form a cluster as much
as 3 ft. in diameter. The small tubercles are hidden by the numerous
radial spines, which are in clusters of about twenty; they are white,
hair-like, stiff and 1/2 in. long; the central spines, numbering from four
to six, are a little longer. Flowers from apex of stem, 11/2 in. long and
wide, and composed of about thirty fimbriated sepals and twenty-five to
forty narrow petals; colour bright purple. Fruit 1/2 in. long, pale green
when ripe. The flowers, which appear in May and June, usually expand
after mid-day. Native of Louisiana. In the North-West plains and Rocky
Mountains of North America this plant is abundant, often forming wide
cushion-like tufts, which, when covered with numerous purple, star-like
flowers, have a pretty effect. In Utah and New York it is commonly
cultivated as a hardy garden plant, bearing exposure to keen frosts and
snow without suffering; but it would not thrive out of doors in winter
with us, unless covered by a handlight during severe weather, and
protected from heavy rains in winter. It likes a strong, clayey soil.
M. v. radiosa (Fig. 73).--This variety is distinguished by its larger
flowers and shorter spines.
[Illustration: FIG. 73. MAMILLARIA VIVIPARA RADIOSA.]
M. Wildiana (Wild's).--An old garden Cactus, and one of the prettiest
of the tufted, small-stemmed kinds. Its largest stems are 3 in. high by
about 11/2 in. in diameter, and bear spiral rows of clavate, dark green,
crystallised tubercles, 1/2 in. long, with about ten radial white spines,
1/2 in. long, the three upper spines, together with the solitary central
hooked one, being yellow. Flowers small, numerous on the apices of the
stems, rose-coloured, lined with purple; they are developed in summer.
This also forms dense tufts of stems. A specimen at Kew, only a few
years old, has already over thirty heads. It is a native of Mexico, at
an altitude of 5000 ft., growing on lava and basalt, and even on the
trunks of trees. For its cultivation, a shelf in a sunny greenhouse is a
most suitable position, both in winter and summer. Introduced 1835.
M. Wrightii (Wright's).--This is a charming little plant, of something
the same character as M. dolichocentra. It has not long been cultivated
in gardens, but being easy to manage, and exceptionally pretty, it is
sure to become a favourite as it gets known. Stem rounded above,
narrowed and peg-top-like at the base, the top flattened, about 3 in.
across, height about the same. Tubercles conical, 1/2 in. long, shining
green, and bearing a tuft of six or eight spines, which are straight,
hair-like, white, and 1/2 in. long; there are two central spines, of same
length, and hooked. Flowers in the top of the stem, 1 in. long and wide,
bright purple; they are succeeded by egg-shaped, purple berries, 1 in.
long, and prettily arranged among the tubercles. In England a warm house
seems most suitable for this species. It likes plenty of moisture and
sunlight during the summer, whilst making new growth; but in winter,
when at rest, it ought to be kept on a shelf, and just moistened
overhead in bright weather. There are healthy examples of it at Kew.
Flowering season, May and June. Native country, Mexico. Introduced about
M. Zucchariniana (Zuccharini's).--Stem simple, globose, often attaining
a height of 10 in. by about 7 in. in diameter. Tubercles dark green,
conical, 1/3 in. long, 1/2 in. broad at base, naked at the point, but with
four to six spines springing from the areole a little below the point;
spines ash-coloured, stiff, black-tipped. Flowers in a ring about the
top of the stem, length 1 in., the tube enveloped in long, black, twisted
hairs; sepals brown-purple; petals narrow, sharp-pointed, purple-rose
coloured; stamens white and yellow; stigma rose-coloured. Flowers in
June and July. Native of Mexico. A large, handsome-stemmed kind, easily
kept in health, and flowering freely if grown on a shelf in a cool
greenhouse in winter, and placed in a warm, sunny position out of doors
in summer. It produces seeds freely, and pretty plants, 3 in. or more in
diameter, may be obtained in two years from seeds. By grafting it, when
young, on the stem of a Cereus or cylindrical Opuntia, a healthy,
drumstick-like plant is easily obtained.
THE GENUS LEUCHTENBERGIA.
(Named in honour of Prince Leuchtenberg.)
Among the many instances of plant mimicry that occur in the Cactus
order, the most remarkable is the plant here figured. Remove the flower
from Leuchtenbergia, and very few people indeed would think of calling
it a Cactus, but would probably consider it a short-leaved Yucca. In
habit, in form, in leaf, and in texture, it more resembles a Yucca or an
Agave than anything else, and when first introduced it was considered
such by the Kew authorities until it flowered. The leaves, or rather
tubercles, are sometimes longer and slenderer than in Fig. 74. The
nearest approach to this plant is Mamillaria longimamma, in which the
tubercles are 1 in. or more long, finger-shaped, and crowned with a few
hair-like spines. But the Leuchtenbergia bears its flowers on the ends
of the tubercles, and not from the axils, as in all others. This
peculiarity leads one to infer that tubercles are modified branches, the
spines representing the leaves. Some species of Mamillaria and
Echinocactus develop young plants from the tops of their tubercles; and
this also points to the probability that the latter are branches. In
Leuchtenbergia, the tubercles fall away as the plant increases in
height, leaving a bare, woody stem similar to that of a Yucca.
Cultivation.--The Leuchtenbergia has always been difficult to keep in
health. It thrives best when kept in a warm, sunny house during winter,
and in an exposed, airy, warm position under a frame during summer. It
may be watered regularly whilst growing--that is, from April to
September--and kept quite dry all winter. The soil should be
well-drained loam, and the roots should have plenty of room. A specimen
may be seen in the Kew collection.
Propagation.--This may be effected from seeds, or by removing the head
from an old plant, putting the former in sand, and placing it under a
bell-glass to root, watering it only about once a week till roots are
formed. The old stem should be kept dry for about two months, and then
watered and placed in a sunny, moist position, where it can be syringed
once a day. A shelf in a stove is the best position for it. Here it will
form young buds in the axils of the withered tubercles, and on the edges
of the persistent parts of the tubercles themselves. They first appear
in the form of tiny tufts of yellowish down, and gradually develop till
the first leaf-like tubercle appears. When large enough, the buds may be
removed and planted in small pots to root. If an old plant is dealt with
in this way in April, a batch of young ones should be developed and
rooted by October. Grafting does not appear to have ever been tried for
this plant. When sick, the plant should be carefully washed, and all
decayed parts cut away; it may then be planted in very sandy loam, and
kept under a bell-glass till rooted.
[Illustration: FIG. 74. LEUCHTENBERGIA PRINCIPIS.]
L. principis (noble); Fig. 74.--This, the only species known, was
introduced from Mexico to Kew in 1847, and flowered the following year.
The plant attains a height of 1 ft. or more, the stem being erect, stout,
clothed with the persistent, scale-like bases of the old, fallen-away
tubercles, the bases having dried up and tightened round the stem. The
upper part is clothed with the curved, leaf-like tubercles, from 3 in. to
6 in. long, grey-green in colour, succulent, with a tough skin,
triangular, and gradually narrowed to a blunt point, upon which are half
a dozen or more thin, flexuous, horny filaments, neither spines nor
hairs in appearance, but almost hay-like; the central one is about 5 in.
long, and the others about half that length. The flowers are borne on
the ends of the young, partly-developed tubercles, near the centre of
the head; they are erect, tubular, 3 in. to 4 in. long, scaly, gradually
widening upwards; the sepals and petals are numerous, and form a
beautiful flower of the ordinary Cactus type, quite 4 in. across, and of
a rich, clear yellow colour. The anthers, which also are yellow, form a
column in the centre, through which the nine-rayed stigma protrudes.
Strong plants sometimes produce two flowers together.
THE GENUS PELECYPHORA.
(From pelekyphoros, hatchet-bearing; referring to the shape of the
IKE Leuchtenbergia, this genus is monotypic, and it is also rare,
difficult to cultivate, and exceptionally interesting in structure. It
is closely related to the Mamillarias, as may be seen, by comparing the
Figure here given with some of them; indeed, it was once known as M.
asellifera, having been described under that name when first introduced,
in 1843. From Mamillaria, however, it differs in the form of its
tubercles, which are hatchet-shaped, and cleft at the apex, where each
division is clothed with small, horny, overlapping scales, not unlike
the back of a woodlouse--hence the specific name.
Cultivation.--The Hatchet Cactus grows very slowly, specimens such as
that represented in our Illustration being many years old. We have seen
healthy plants, freshly imported, grow for a few months, and then
suddenly die, the inside of the stem rotting whilst outside it looked
perfectly healthy. It is always grown on its own roots, but probably it
would thrive better if grafted on the stem of some dwarf Cereus or
[Illustration: FIG. 75. PELECYPHORA ASELLIFORMIS.]
Propagation.--The propagation of Pelecyphora is easiest effected by
means of seeds, which, however, are not always procurable. It is stated
by Labouret, a French writer on Cactuses, that the first plants
introduced arrived dead, but a few seeds were found in a withered fruit
on one of the dead stems, and from these the first plants grown in
Europe were raised. M. de Smet of Ghent, had a large stock of this
Cactus a few years ago, and a German nurseryman, H. Hildmann, of
Oranienberg, near Berlin, usually has many young plants of it for sale.
P. aselliformis (woodlouse-like); Fig. 75.--The size, habit, and
structure of this plant are so well represented in the Figure that
little description is necessary. The stems are simple till they get
about 3 in. high, when they develop offsets about the base, which may
either be removed to form new plants, or allowed to remain and grow into
a specimen like that in the Illustration. The flowers are large for the
size of the plant, and they are developed freely in the apex of the
stems in the early part of the summer. The tube is very short, naked,
and completely hidden by the young mammae; sepals and petals in four
series, the outer one pale purple, the inner of a deep purple colour;
stamens very numerous, and the stigma has only four erect lobes. The
plant was first described from examples cultivated in Berlin in 1843,
but the flowers were not known till 1858. There are several varieties
known, viz., P. a. concolor, which is distinguished by the whole of the
flower being deep purple in colour; P. a. pectinata has larger scales
(spine-tufts); and P. a. cristata is, as its name denotes a kind of
cockscomb or crested form. They are all natives of Mexico.
THE GENUS OPUNTIA.
(The old Latin name used by Pliny, and said to have been derived from
the city of Opus.)
There are about 150 species of Opuntia known, all of them natives of the
American continent and the West Indies, though a considerable number
have become naturalised in many other parts of the world. They are, with
very few exceptions, easily distinguished from all other Cactuses by the
peculiar character of their stems and spines; they are also well marked
in the structure of their flowers. They vary in size from small,
trailing, many-branched plants, never exceeding 6 in. in height, to large
shrubs 8 ft. to 30 ft. high. (Humboldt states that he saw "Opuntias and
other Cactuses 30 ft. to 40 ft. high.") Generally the branches are nearly
flat when young, and shaped like a racquet or battledore; but in some
species the branches are round (i.e., in O. cylindrica, O. subulata, O.
arborescens, &c.). All the kinds have fleshy stems, which ultimately
become cylindrical and woody. At first they consist of fleshy joints,
superposed upon one another, the joints varying considerably in size and
shape. When young they bear small fleshy leaves along with the
spine-tufts; but the former fall off at an early stage, whilst the
spines are altered in length or number as the joints get old. In one or
two kinds the spines fall away when the joints begin to harden, and in
O. subulata the leaves are large and persistent.
The nature of the spines of Opuntias is of a kind that is not likely to
be forgotten by anyone coming into contact with them. Every spine, from
the tiny bristles, hardly perceptible to the naked eye, to the stout,
needle-like spears which are found on the branches of some kinds, is
barbed, and they are so very sharp and penetrating that even a gentle
touch is sufficient to make them pierce the skin. Once in they are very
difficult to get out; the very fine ones can only be shaved level with
the skin, and left to grow out, whilst the larger must be cut out if
they have penetrated to any depth. This horrid character in Opuntias,
whilst rendering them disagreeable to the gardener, has been turned to
good account in many of our colonies, where they are commonly used as
fences. A good hedge of such kinds as O. Tuna or O. horrida is
absolutely impassable to both man and beast, and as the stems are too
watery to be easily destroyed by fire, their usefulness in this way
could not be surpassed. As all the Opuntias will grow in the very
poorest of soils, and even on bare rocks, and as they grow very rapidly,
they have been largely employed in Africa, Australia, and India for
fences. It is reported that when an island in the West Indies was
divided between the French and English, the boundary was marked by three
rows of O. Tuna.
The flowers of Opuntias are not, as a rule, particularly attractive. In
many of the kinds they are large and well-formed, but the colours are
tawny-yellow, greenish-white, or dull red. These plants cannot,
therefore, be recommended for any floral beauty, although it is probable
that the same flowers, on plants of less repulsive appearance than
Opuntias are, as a rule, would be admired. There are a few exceptions to
this in such species as O. Rafinesquii, O. missouriensis, and O.
basilaris, which are compact and dwarf, and bear numerous large,
brightly-coloured flowers. The fruits of Opuntias, or, at least, some of
them, are edible, and to some palates they are very agreeable. We have
tasted them, and consider they are mawkish and insipid--not much better
than very poor gooseberries. Sir Joseph Hooker has compared them to
Pumpkins. They are pear-shaped, with a thick, spine-covered rind,
containing green, yellow, or red pulp, with small, hard seeds scattered
The fruit of Opuntia differs in character and structure from the
ordinary kind of fruit, such as apples, pears, &c. It consists of a
branch, or joint, modified in form, and bearing on its flattened apex a
flower, with the ovary buried in a slight depression in the fleshy
joint. After becoming fertilised, the ovary grows down into the joint,
and, ultimately the whole joint is changed into a succulent, juicy,
often coloured "fruit." That this is the case has been proved by
planting the unripe "fruit" of Opuntias in pots of sandy soil, and
treating them as cuttings, when they have developed buds at the apex and
roots at the base, ultimately forming plants.
The vitality in the branches of most of the species is very great, the
smallest piece, as a rule, emitting roots and developing into a plant in
a comparatively short time. The branches are soft, and easily broken, so
that, in gathering the fruits, many pieces are broken off and cast
aside; these soon grow into plants, and in a short time an extensive
"colony" of Opuntias springs up where previously only one had been. The
seeds, too, are a ready means of increase, being distributed by birds
and other animals, which eat the fruits. In consequence of this free
vegetative character, the Opuntias introduced into some of our colonies
have become a pest almost as difficult to deal with as the rabbit
scourge in Australia. In English gardens, however, there is no danger of
Opuntias getting the upper hand. The adaptability of the majority of the
kinds for cultivation under what may be termed adverse conditions for
other plants, and the ease with which they may be propagated, render the
management of a collection of these plants an easy matter. Amongst other
Cactuses, Opuntias have a striking effect, and a selection of them
should be grown in even the smallest collections. A few of them may be
recommended specially as attractive plants for a sheltered, sunny
Cultivation.--The cultural requirements of the Opuntias may more
conveniently be referred to under the description of each kind.
Propagation.--This entails no exceptional treatment; the numerous seeds
contained in each fruit germinate freely if sown in sandy soil, and
placed on a shelf in a warm house; and the smallest branches root
quickly if planted in pots of open soil and kept in the Cactus-house.
Large branches root just as freely as small ones. At Kew an enormous
specimen, which had grown tall, and developed a thicket of branches too
great for the house where it grew, was reduced most summarily by simply
cutting off the head of branches and planting it in the ground where the
original specimen had been. In a short time this "cutting" was well
rooted, and made better growth than it had before the operation was
As stocks for grafting, many of the more robust kinds of Opuntia are
well adapted, and very singular-looking specimens may be obtained by
making the most of this fact. One of the crested or monstrous forms,
when grafted on a flat-stemmed kind, presents the queerest of
appearances, looking like a large green cockscomb growing out of the top
of a bladdery kind of stem. Equally odd combinations may be made by
grafting a flat-stemmed kind on one whose stem is cylindrical. As all
the kinds unite with the greatest ease, a taste for oddities among
plants may easily be gratified by making use of Opuntias in this way.
The time most favourable for the operation is spring-say, the month of
April. For full information on how to graft Cactuses, see Chapter IV.,
O. arborescens (tree-like).--This species is known as the Walking-Stick
or Elk-Horn Cactus, from its cylindrical, woody stems being made into
very curious-looking walking-sticks (examples of which may be seen in
the Museum at Kew), whilst the arrangement of the branches is suggestive
of elk horns. Habit erect; joints cylindrical, branching freely, and
forming trees from 8 ft. to 30 ft. high. Stems covered with oblong
tubercles and tufts of long, needle-like spines, which give the plant a
very ferocious aspect. Flowers on the ends of the young branches, 2 in.
to 3 in. in diameter, bright purple in colour, developing in June. It is
a native of Mexico, &c., and requires greenhouse or stove treatment. The
skeletons of this species, as seen scattered over the desert places
where it is wild, have a very singular and startling appearance. They
stand in the form of trees, quite devoid of leaves, spines, or flesh,
and, owing to the peculiar arrangement of the ligneous layers, nothing
remains except a hollow cylinder, perforated with mesh-like holes,
indicating the points where the tubercles and small branches had been.
These skeletons are said to stand many years.
O. arbuscula (small tree).--Another of the cylindrical kinds, with a
solid, woody trunk, about 4 in. through, and clothed with smooth, green
bark; it grows to a height of 7 ft. or 8 ft. Branches very numerous,
slender, copiously jointed, the ultimate joints about 3 in. long and 1/2 in.
thick; they are slightly tuberculated, and bear tufts of spines nearly
1 in. long. Flowers 11/2 in. in diameter, produced in June; petals few,
greenish-yellow, tinged with red. It is a native of Mexico, and requires
stove treatment. A pretty plant, or, rather, a very remarkable one, even
when not in flower, the thin branches, with their hundreds of long,
whitish spines, being singular. Unfortunately, it is not easily grown.
O. arenaria (sand-loving).--Stems spreading, forming a tuft 3 ft.
through and about 1 ft. high. Joints 11/2 in. to 3 in. long, and a little
less in width, terete, with very prominent tubercles and numerous tawny
bristles; upper spines 1 in. to 11/2 in. long, white, with a yellow point,
shorter ones hair-like and curled. Flowers 2 in. in diameter, produced in
May. Fruit 1 in. long, bearing a few short spines. Mexico. A
strong-rooted plant, which should be grown in very loose, sandy soil. It
would probably thrive best when planted out on a stage near the glass in
O. Auberi (Auber's).--An erect-growing plant, 8 ft. or more high, not
unlike O. Ficus-indica in the form of its joints, but with long spines
springing from the cushions, whereas the latter has none. The joints are
oblong-ovate, glaucous-green, the cushions few and scattered; spines
white, flattened, of various lengths. Flowers tawny yellow, small for
the size of the plant. A native of Cuba, and requiring stove treatment.
Being very brittle, this plant should be supported with stakes.
O. aurantiaca (orange).--A dwarf, cylindrical-stemmed kind, branching
freely. Joints short, 3/4 in. in diameter; cushions of reddish spines, one
about 1 in. long, the others shorter; bases of spines enveloped in white
wool. Flowers bright orange, 2 in. to 3 in. across. This species is a
native of Chili, whence it was introduced in 1824. It should be grown in
a warm greenhouse all winter, and placed in a sunny position outside
O. basilaris (branching at the base); Fig. 76.--A dwarf, compact plant,
of peculiar habit. Stem short, branching into a number of stout,
obovate, often fan-shaped joints, which usually spring from a common
base, and curve inwards, suggesting an open cabbage. Joints 5 in. to 8 in.
long, about 1 in. thick, covered all over with dot-like cushions of very
short, reddish spines, set in slight depressions or wrinkles. Flowers of
a beautiful and rich purple colour, about 21/2 in. in diameter, and
produced in May. This distinct plant is a native of Mexico, and is of
recent introduction. Plants of it may be seen in the Kew collection. It
is apparently easily kept in health in an ordinary stove temperature
along with other Cactuses. It varies in the form of its joints and in
its manner of branching, but it seems never to develop the joints one on
the top of the other, as do most Opuntias. This species is certain to
become a favourite when it becomes better known.
[Illustration: FIG. 76. OPUNTIA BASILARIS.]
O. Bigelovii (Bigelow's).--A cylinder-stemmed, tall-growing plant, with
a stout, woody stem, bearing a dense head of branches. Joints 2 in. to
6 in. long, 1 in. to 2 in. in diameter, light green, covered with small
tubercles and little spine-cushions, with larger spines 1 in. long. When
wild, the young joints are often shaken off by the wind, and cover the
soil around, where they take root or stick to the clothes of the
passers-by like burrs. Flowers not known. A native of Mexico, where it
forms a tree 12 ft. high; it requires stove treatment. The skeleton of
the trunk is a hollow cylinder, perforated with numerous holes, which
occur in a regular spiral. The appearance of a full-grown specimen is
very striking, the oval joints, thickly covered with long, needle-like
spines, hanging in clusters, more suggestive of spiny fruit than
O. boliviana (Bolivian); Fig. 77.--Stems 1 ft. high, erect, branching,
and composed of roundish, pale green joints, with small, round
tubercles, and long, white, flexible spines, sometimes as much as 4 in.
in length; cushions about 1 in. apart. Flowers 11/2 in. across, yellowish.
This is a fat, gouty-looking plant, from Bolivia, requiring stove
treatment. It often assumes a yellow hue on the older joints, even when
in good health.
[Illustration: FIG. 77. OPUNTIA BOLIVIANA.]
O. brachyarthra (short-jointed); Fig. 78.--A dwarf-growing,
singular-looking plant, with short, tumid joints from 1 in. to 2 in. long
and wide, and nearly the same in thickness. The shortness of the joints,
together with their growing on the top of each other, has been not
inaptly compared to a jointed finger. Cushions very close together,
composed of short, white and yellowish bristles, and stout, terete
spines, 1 in. or more long, set on little tubercles. Flowers 1 in. in
diameter, with about five sepals, eight or nine petals, and a five-rayed
stigma; they are borne on the apices of the topmost joints. This species
is worth growing on account of its peculiar stems and the length of its
white spines. It is a native of New Mexico, and has been recently
introduced to Kew, where it is cultivated among the hardy kinds, and
also in the greenhouse.
[Illustration: FIG. 78. OPUNTIA BRACHYARTHRA.]
O. braziliensis (Brazilian).--The peculiar habit and mode of growth at
once distinguish this species. It rises with a perfectly straight,
erect, slender, but firm and stiff, round stem, to a height of from
10 ft. to 30 ft., tapering from the base upwards, and furnished all the
way up with short, horizontal branches, spreading about 3 ft. all round,
like an immense candelabrum. Spines long, subulate, very sharp,
ash-coloured, in clusters. Joints broadly oblong, margins wavy; they
resemble leaves, or the thin, leaf-like joints of a Phyllocactus, with
the addition of long, whitish spines on both sides. Flowers 11/2 in. in
diameter, lemon-yellow, very freely produced on the younger joints
during May and June. Fruit as large as a walnut, spiny, yellow when
ripe. This species is a native of Brazil, whence it was introduced in
1816. It may be recommended for large, airy houses, as it grows freely,
and forms a striking object when arranged with foliage and flowering
plants of the ordinary kind. Its fruits are edible.
O. candelabriformis (candelabrum-shaped).--Stems erect, 5 ft. to 8 ft.
high; joints flat, almost circular, about 6 in. in diameter,
glaucous-green, densely clothed with numerous cushions of white,
bristle-like spines, a few in each cushion being long and thread-like.
Flowers not known on cultivated plants. This sturdy species is a native
of Mexico, and succeeds well if planted on a little rockery or raised
mound in a warm house, where, properly treated, it branches freely, and
forms a dense mass of circular joints. It is one of the most useful of
the larger Opuntias for cultivation in large houses.
O. clavata (club-shaped).--Stem short; joints club-shaped, 2 in. long
and 1 in. wide, narrowed almost to a point at both ends. Cushions 1/4 in.
apart, composed of numerous spines, varying from short and bristle-like
to 1 in. in length, stout, flattened, and spear-like. Leaves 1/4 in. long.
Flowers yellow, 11/2 in. across. Fruit 11/2 in. long, lemon-yellow when ripe,
and covered with stellate clusters of white, bristle-like spines. New
Mexico, 1854. A stove species, remarkable for the strength and form of
its central spines, which are spear or dagger-shaped.
O. cochinellifera (cochineal-bearing); Bot. Mag. 2742.--An
erect-growing plant, attaining a height of 9 ft. or more, and branching
freely, the older parts of the stem and branches being woody and
cylindrical; young joints flat, oblong-ovate, varying in length from
4 in. to 1 ft., deep green, rather soft and watery, spineless, the
cushions distant, and sometimes bearing a few very short bristles.
Flowers at the extremities of the branches, 11/2 in. long, composed of
numerous imbricating, scale-like petals, curving inwards, and coloured
crimson. Fruit flat-topped, 2 in. long, red; pulp reddish; seeds black.
It is a native of tropical South America, whence it was introduced in
1688. It requires stove treatment, and blossoms in August. This is one
of the most useful of the genus, on account of its being the kind
chiefly employed in the cultivation of cochineal. It is one of the
easiest to manage, requiring only a rather dry atmosphere, plenty of
light, and a temperature not lower than 50 degs. in winter. Syn. Nopalea
O. corrugata (wrinkled).--Stem not more than 2 ft. high; joints
cylindrical, wrinkled all over, about 2 in. long, covered with cushions
of white hair or bristle-like spines. Flowers 11/2 in. across,
reddish-yellow, produced in August. A native of Chili, whence it was
introduced in 1824. It may be grown in an ordinary greenhouse, on a
shelf near the glass, and exposed to full sunshine.
O. curassavica (Curassoa); Pin-pillow.--Branches spreading; joints
cylindrical or club-shaped, dark green, bearing numerous cushions of
woolly bristles, and long, white, very sharp-pointed spines. Flowers
3 in. across, greenish-yellow, borne on the young joints in June.
Introduced from Curassoa in 1690. A free-growing plant under favourable
conditions, and one requiring stove treatment. It has been cultivated in
gardens almost as long as any species of Cactus. There are several
varieties of it known, differing from the type in habit, length of
spine, or shade of colour in the flower.
O. cylindrica (cylindrical).--Stem and joints cylindrical, the latter
covered with spindle-shaped tubercles, each one crowned with a tuft of
fine, hair-like, whitish spines, one or two in each tuft being stiff,
and sharp as needles. The leaves are fleshy, cylindrical, 1 in. or more
long, and they remain on the joints longer than is usual in Opuntias.
Flowers crowded on the ends of the branches, each 1 in. in diameter,
scarlet; they are developed in June. This plant is said to grow to a
height of 6 ft. or more in its native habitat, but under cultivation it
is rarely seen more than 3 ft. high; it was introduced in 1799. It is
handsome and distinct enough to be worth growing. It requires stove or
greenhouse treatment, but rarely flowers under cultivation.
O. c. cristata (crested).--A dwarf, cockscomb-like variety, with the
leaves and white hairs growing all along the wrinkled top of the comb.
It is a very singular example of a "monster" Cactus. It requires stove
O. Davisii (Davis'); Bot. Mag. 6652.--Stems somewhat horizontal, not
exceeding 11/2 ft. in height; joints 4 in. to 6 in. in length, and about 1/2
in. in thickness; wood dense, and hard when old; tubercles not prominent,
bearing cushions of very slender bristles, forming a kind of brush, from
amongst which the spines spring. The longest spines are 11/2 in., and they
are covered with a loose, glistening sheath. Flowers 2 in. in diameter,
greenish-brown. The plant is a native of New Mexico, and was introduced
in 1883. It forms a compact, shrubby little plant if grown in an
intermediate house during winter, and placed in the open in full
sunshine during summer. It was flowered for the first time in England in
1883, and although not what we should call an attractive plant, in
America it is described as being "a well-marked and pretty species." It
is named after Jefferson Davis, the American statesman.
O. decumana (great-oblong). This is the largest-growing species in
cultivation. At Kew it is represented by a plant 12 ft. high (it would
grow still taller if the house were higher). It has a hard, woody,
brown-barked stem, bearing an enormous head of very large, elliptical,
flat joints, 12 in. to 20 in. long, and about 1 ft. broad, smooth,
grey-green, with a few scattered cushions of very tiny bristles, and
sometimes, though rarely, a spine or two. Flowers large,
orange-coloured, produced in summer. Fruit oval, 4 in. long, spiny,
brownish-red, very watery when ripe; flesh red, sweet. A native of
Brazil, and requiring stove treatment. This is said to be what is known
in Malta as the Indian Fig. The plant is chiefly interesting here on
account of the extraordinary size of the joints.
O. diademata (diademed).--A small, remarkable, and extremely rare
little species, with a short, erect stem, composed of globose,
superposed joints, grey-green in colour, and very succulent. The topmost
joint is pear-shaped, with a tuft of whitish hair and spines on the
apex, out of which the new growth pushes. Cushions large, about 1 in.
apart, furnished with a tuft of short, grey hairs and short spines, with
a large one at the base. The character of this large spine is
exceptional, being broad, flat, cartilaginous, whitish, and curving
downwards. On healthy large examples these spines are 2 in. long, and
nearly 1/4 in. wide at the base. Flowers and fruit not known. Native of
Mendoza (La Plata). This little plant requires to be cultivated in a
warm greenhouse or stove, but it grows very slowly. It is certainly a
most interesting Cactus; examples of it may be seen at Kew, where there
is a plant which, although over ten years old, is only 4 in. high. Syns.
O. platyacantha and Cereus syringacanthus.
O. Dillenii (Dillenius'); Fig. 79.--An erect-growing, robust species,
attaining a height of 15 ft., with flattened, ovate joints, about 5 in.
long by 3 in. broad. Cushions composed of short, white, hair-like
bristles, and numerous long, stout, yellow spines. Flowers yellow,
tinged with red, 4 in. in diameter, freely produced on the ends of the
youngest joints all summer. Fruits similar to those of O. Ficus-indica.
A native of the West Indies, now naturalised in all warmer parts of the
world. In India it is so plentiful and widespread that Roxburgh, an
Indian botanist, said it was a native. In India, its fruits are eaten by
the poor natives, and it is often planted as a hedge. It is also a great
pest in the open lands of that country, and large sums are annually
expended in cutting it down and burying it. This species, which requires
warm greenhouse treatment, is also employed in the cultivation of
[Illustration: FIG. 79. OPUNTIA DILLENII.]
O. echinocarpa (spiny-fruited).--A low, straggling shrub, not exceeding
11/2 ft. in height. Joints cylindrical, from 1 in. to 3 in. long, less than
1 in. thick. Cushions of rather coarse bristles and numerous spines, from
1/2 in. to 1 in. in length. Flowers 2 in. in diameter, yellow, produced in
summer. Fruit short, depressed, almost saucer-shaped, and bearing spines
nearly 1 in. long. A native of Colorado, &c. It requires stove treatment.
The variety major has stems 4 ft. high, joints 8 in. to 10 in. long, and
long, sheathed spines. This species is closely related to O. Bigelovii
and O. Davisii.
O. Emoryi (Emory's).--A prostrate, spreading plant, less than 11/2 ft.
high. Joints cylindrical, curved, 4 in. long, 11/2 in. thick. Tubercles very
prominent, longitudinally attached to the stem, the apices crowned with
pea-shaped cushions of short bristles, and numerous radiating spines,
some of which are fully 2 in. long, very strong and needle-like. Flowers
21/2 in. in diameter, sulphur-yellow, tinged with purple, produced in
August and September. Fruit 21/2 in. long and 1 in. thick, covered with
cushions of bristles and spines. A native of Mexico, on dry, sandy
soils, where its prostrate stems, clothed with powerful spines, form a
hiding-place for the small animals, snakes, &c. Stove or warm greenhouse
treatment is best for this species.
O. Engelmanni (Engelmann's).--A stout, coarse-looking plant, 6 ft. high,
with woody stems and large, flat, green joints, 1 ft. long and 9 in. in
diameter. Cushions 11/2 in. apart, composed of coarse bristles, and one or
two spines over 1 in. long, and pointing downwards. Flowers 3 in. in
diameter, yellow, produced in May and June. Fruit nearly round, 2 in.
long, purplish both in rind and pulp, the latter rather nauseous to the
taste. Mexico. This is a greenhouse plant which grows freely and flowers
annually under cultivation. It is very similar to O. monacantha, a much
better known species. According to American botanists, it is probably
the most widely spread of the whole Cactus tribe.
O. Ficus-indica (Indian Fig); Fig. 80.--Branches erect, 8 ft. to 12 ft.
high; joints flat, oval or obovate, about 1 ft. long by 3 in. in width,
and 1 in. in thickness. Stems hard and woody with age. Cushions 11/2 in.
apart, composed of short, yellowish bristles, and very rarely one spine.
Flowers 3 in. to 4 in. across, sulphur-yellow, produced all through the
summer. Fruit 3 in. to 4 in. long, pear-shaped, covered with tufts of
bristles, white, yellow, or red when ripe. It is a native of Central
America, whence it was introduced about 300 years ago. It is now widely
spread, in tropical and temperate regions all over the world. In many
parts it is cultivated for the sake of its fruits, which in some of our
colonies are used for dessert. In England it must be protected from damp
and cold; it is, therefore, best cultivated in a sunny greenhouse during
winter, and placed outside in a position exposed to full sunshine all
summer. Tenore, an Italian botanist, named this species O. vulgaris, and
this mistake has led others to consider the North American O. vulgaris
(true) and O. Ficus-indica as one and the same species.
[Illustration: FIG. 80. FRUITING BRANCH OF OPUNTIA FICUS-INDICA.]
O. filipendula (hanging filaments); Fig. 81.--Stems prostrate, about
1 ft. high, spreading; joints flat, round or oval, about 3 in. long, often
less, milky-green in colour. Cushions 1/2 in. apart, composed of a little
tuft of white woolly hair, a cluster of erect, rather long bristles,
like a small shaving-brush, and all pointing upwards; spines usually
only one in each cushion, and this is slender, deflexed, white, and from
1 in. to 2 in. long. Sometimes the joints are wholly spineless. Flowers
21/2 in. in diameter, purplish, very handsome, produced in May and June.
Fruit not known. The roots of this species bear tubers often 1 in. in
thickness, and several inches in length, and these tubers will grow into
plants if severed and planted. It requires stove treatment. Native
[Illustration: FIG. 81. OPUNTIA FILIPENDULA.]
O. frutescens (shrubby).--A thin-stemmed, copiously-branched species.
Joints almost continuous, like ordinary branches, from 2 in. to 6 in.
long, the thickest not exceeding 1/4 in. Cushions on raised points or
tubercles, each consisting of a small tuft of hair, inclosed in a row of
bristles, and one long, central spine, often exceeding 2 in. in length.
When young, the spines are inclosed in a thin, bony sheath. Flowers
scattered along the younger branches, 1 in. across, greenish-yellow,
borne in June. Fruit 1 in. long, pear-shaped, smooth, scarlet, with tufts
of bristles all over it, and a depression in the apex. Mexico. This
forms an interesting pot-plant when properly cultivated. It should be
grown in a warm greenhouse.
O. Grahami (Graham's).--This is one of several species of Opuntia which
are remarkable in having thick, fleshy roots, not unlike those of the
Dahlia. The joints are 2 in. long and 1 in. in diameter, cylindrical, with
adpressed tubercles, 1/2 in. or more long, each tubercle bearing a tuft of
long, straight, radiating spines. Flowers 2 in. across, yellow, borne on
the ends of the ripened joints in June. Fruits 11/2 in. long and 3/4 in. wide,
covered with stellate clusters of short, bristle-like spines. This plant
is a native of Mexico, and is a recent introduction. From the nature of
its roots, which are no doubt intended to serve as reservoirs for times
of extreme drought, it should be grown in well-drained, sandy soil, and
kept quite dry all winter. It requires stove treatment.
O. horrida (horrid).--An erect, stout-stemmed plant, with flattened,
green joints, about 5 in. long by 3 in. wide. Cushions 1 in. apart,
composed of short, reddish bristles, and long, tawny red spines, about
eight in each cushion, and of a peculiarly ferocious appearance--hence
the specific name. The stoutest spines are 3 in. long, and are sharp and
strong as needles. This species (which is probably a native of Mexico)
is deserving of a place in collections of Cactuses because of the
character of its spines. Probably it is only a variety of O. Tuna. It
requires warm-house treatment.
O. hystricina (porcupine-like).--This beautiful species was discovered
in the San Francisco Mountains mixed with O. missouriensis, to which it
is nearly allied. It is spreading in habit, the joints 3 in. to 4 in. long
and broad; cushions 1/2 in. apart, rather large, with numerous spines,
varying in length from 1/2 in. to 4 in., and short, yellowish bristles.
Flowers large, yellow. Fruit 1 in., long, spiny. This plant is not known
in English collections, but it is described by American botanists as
being attractive and a free grower. As it is found along with O.
missouriensis, it ought to prove hardy in England.
O. leptocaulis (slender-stemmed).--This little Mexican species is
chiefly remarkable for its fragile, numerous, twig-like joints, thickly
dotted with tubercles and numerous spirally-arranged cushions of reddish
bristles, with long, grey spines. It does not flower under cultivation.
Requires stove treatment.
O. leucotricha (white-haired).--An erect-stemmed kind, with flattened
joints, ovate or oblong in shape, and bearing numerous cushions, 1/2 in.
apart, of short bristles, with a large, central spine, and a few others
rather shorter. When young these spines are rigid and needle-like; but
as they get older they increase in length, and become soft, and curled
like stiff, white hair. Young plants are noticeable for their small,
subulate leaves of a bright red colour, whilst old examples are almost
as interesting as the Old Man Cactus (Pilocereus senilis), the long,
white, hair-like spines of the Opuntia hanging from the older joints in
much the same manner as they do from the upper part of the stem of the
Pilocereus. Flowers yellow, produced in June. This species is a native
of Mexico, and requires stove treatment. Seeds of this, and, indeed, of
a large proportion of the cultivated Opuntias, may be procured from
seedsmen, and as they germinate quickly, and soon produce handsome
little plants, a collection of Opuntias is thus very easily obtained.
O. macrocentra (large-spurred).--A flat-jointed species, growing to a
height of 3 ft.; the joints large, almost circular, thinly compressed,
and usually purplish in colour. Cushions about 1 in. apart, with spines
often 3 in. long, of a greyish colour, and generally pointing downwards.
Flowers 3 in. across, bright yellow; they are developed in May and June,
on the upper edges of the youngest joints. This plant is a native of
Mexico; it is at present rare, but the unusual colour of the joints, its
compact, freely-branched habit, the extraordinary length of its spines,
and the size of its flowers, ought to win for it many admirers. It is
easily grown if kept in an intermediate house. Plants of it may be seen
in the Kew collection.
O. macrorhiza (large-rooted); Figs. 82, 83.--In this Texan species we
have a combination of the principal characters for which the genus
Opuntia is remarkable: The thick, fleshy roots, which are a supposed
source of food, and which look like potatoes; the cylinder-shaped older
stems, and the flattened, battledore-like joints; the tufts of bristles
on the stems, and deciduous, longer spines on the joints; the large,
beautiful, yellow flowers; and the small leaves on the newly-formed
joints. In habit and flowers this kind resembles O. Rafinesquii; and if
not quite hardy in England, it is nevertheless sufficiently so to thrive
in any sunny position where it would be protected from frost and
excessive wet. The accompanying illustrations represent the characters
of this species so well that further description is not needed. The
flowers are developed in early summer.
[Illustration: FIG. 82. FLOWERING BRANCHES OF OPUNTIA MACRORHIZA.]
[Illustration: FIG. 83. ROOTS OF OPUNTIA MACRORHIZA.]
O. microdasys (small, thick).--This is a handsome little Mexican plant.
Its flattened joints, which are nearly circular in outline, are thickly
covered with little cushions of bright orange-yellow bristles, the
cushions being so close together that the short bristles almost hide the
green joints from view. The stems are semi-decumbent, and they branch
somewhat freely. Flowers not seen. It thrives in a warm greenhouse
temperature. The best examples of this pretty Opuntia are grafted on a
robust-growing kind, the stock being about 1 ft. long, and the scion
forming a compact head of pretty, healthy-looking joints. Treated in
this way, this species is most interesting and attractive. It may also
be grown on its own roots. There is a variety of it, named rufida, in
which the bristles are reddish-brown.
O. missouriensis (Missouri).--A stout, prostrate kind, forming large,
spreading masses under favourable conditions. Joints broad, flattened,
obovate, about 4 in. long by 2 in. wide, light green; spine-cushions less
than 1 in. apart, and composed of numerous small, white spines, with from
one to four longer ones; these latter fall away when the joints get old.
Leaves very short, with a little wool about their bases. Flowers 3 in. in
diameter, appearing from May onwards; petals yellow, dashed with rose,
sometimes wholly rose-coloured or brick-red. Stamens deep red; pistil
yellow, with a conical stigma. Fruit nearly round, spiny, about 2 in.
long. A native of Wisconsin, and westward to the San Francisco
Mountains; introduced in 1814. This species is as hardy as O.
Rafinesquii, and thrives under similar treatment. It has stood 22 degs.
of frost without suffering, requiring only protection from rain in
winter. In North America it forms large, spreading masses on gravelly
hillsides, and is much dreaded by travellers, and especially by horses;
there it is usually covered with snow from Christmas to the following
O. monacantha (one-spined).--A tall, robust plant, not unlike O.
Dillenii in general habit. It has flat, large joints, oblong or ovate in
outline, rather thinly compressed, and bearing grey cushions over 1 in.
apart, with a solitary spine, 11/2 in. long, springing from the centre of
each cushion, and pointing downwards. Flowers sulphur-yellow, 21/2 in.
across, borne on the last-ripened joints in May, and abundant on
well-grown plants. Fruits ovate, 2 in. long, green, with tufts of short,
brown bristles; pulp edible. The species is a native of Brazil, but is
now common in many tropical and sub-tropical countries. It is a
free-growing kind, soon forming a large specimen if planted in a bed of
old brick-rubble, or other light, well-drained soil, and kept in warm
O. nigricans (blackish); Bot. Mag. 1557.--Stem stout, erect, becoming
hard and woody when old. Joints flat, oval in outline, 5 in. to 8 in. long.
Cushions 11/2 in. apart, composed of short reddish-brown bristles and two
or three long stout spines, which are yellow when young, but almost
black when ripe. Flowers produced on the young, ripened joints,
orange-red, about 3 in. across and developed in August and September.
Fruit pear-shaped, rich crimson when ripe. Introduced from Brazil in
1795. This well-marked species thrives in a warm greenhouse. It branches
freely, and has a healthy aspect at all times. It is represented at Kew
by very large specimens; one of them, which was recently cut down, had a
stem 12 ft. high and an enormous head of dark, green joints. Its head was
planted as a cutting.
O. occidentalis (Western).--Stem stout, woody, with innumerable
branches, wide-spreading, often bent to the ground. Joints 9 in. to 12 in.
long by about 6 in. broad, flattened, as many as 100 on one plant.
Cushions nearly 2 in. apart, with small, closely-set bristles and
straight spines from 1/2 in. to l1/2 in. long. Flowers produced in June on the
ripened joints, nearly 4 in. in diameter, orange-yellow. Fruit 2 in. long,
"very juicy, but of a sour and disagreeable taste." This is an
exceptionally fine plant when allowed sufficient space to develop its
enormous branches and joints; it is a native of the Western slopes of
the Californian mountains. It should be planted in a bed of rough, stony
soil, in a dry greenhouse. Possibly it is hardy, but it does not appear
to have been grown out of doors in England.
O. Parmentieri (Parmentier's).--Stem erect. Joints cylindrical, "like
little cucumbers." Cushions about 1 in. apart, arranged in spiral rows,
and composed of short, reddish bristles, with two or three
straw-coloured spines, 1 in. long. Flowers reddish, small. The plant is a
native of Paraguay, and is rarely heard of in cultivation. It requires
O. Parryi (Parry's).--Stem short. Joints club-shaped, 4 in. to 6 in.
long, very spiny, the cushions elevated on ridge-like tubercles.
Bristles few, coarse, and long. Spines very numerous, varying in length
from 1/4 in. to 11/2 in.; central one in each cushion much the broadest, and
flattened like a knife-blade, the others being more or less triangular.
Flowers yellowish-green, on the terminal joints, which are clothed with
star-shaped clusters of bristle-like spines, the flowers springing from
the apex of the joint, and measuring 11/2 in. across. A native of Mexico,
where it grows on gravelly plains. This distinct plant is in cultivation
at Kew, in a warm greenhouse, but it has not yet flowered.
O. Rafinesquii (Rafinesque's); Fig. 84.--A low, prostrate, spreading
plant, seldom exceeding 1 ft. in height, the main branches keeping along
the ground, the younger ones being erect. The latter are composed of
flat, obovate joints, 4 in. to 5 in. long by 3 in. in width, fresh green in
colour; spines very few, mostly only on the upper edge of the last-made
joints, single, or sometimes two or three from each spine-cushion, 1 in.
long, straight, whitish, soon falling off; cushion composed of very fine
reddish bristles and whitish wool; leaves very small, falling early. The
branches become cylindrical and woody with age. Flowers 2 in. to 4 in. in
diameter, bright sulphur-yellow, with a reddish tint in the centre; in
form they are like a shallow cup, the numerous stamens occupying the
middle. They are produced in great abundance on the margins of the
youngest joints, as many as fifty open flowers having been counted on a
single specimen at one time. Fruit pear-shaped, 11/2 in. to 2 in. long,
naked, edible, somewhat acid and sweetish. The flowering season is from
July to September; the native country, Wisconsin to Kentucky, and
westward to Arkansas and Missouri. This species, introduced about twenty
years ago, has only recently been brought prominently before English
gardeners. It is a very ornamental and interesting plant for outdoor
cultivation, and when once established gives no trouble. For the first
year or two after planting it requires watching, as, until the basal
joints harden and become woody, they are liable to rot in wet weather. A
large-flowered form, known as grandiflora, is cultivated in American
[Illustration: FIG. 84. OPUNTIA RAFINESQUII.]
O. rosea (rose-coloured); Fig. 85.--Stem erect, branching freely.
Joints varying in length from 2 in. to 6 in., not flattened, with
ridge-like tubercles, bearing on their points small cushions of very
fine bristles and tufts of pale yellowish spines about 1/2 in. long, and
all pointing upwards. Flowers on the ends of the ripened growths of the
year, usually clustered, 2 in. across, bright rose-coloured; they are
developed in June. A rare species from Brazil, and one which, as the
illustration shows, is both distinct and handsome enough to be classed
amongst the most select. It requires a stove temperature.
[Illustration: FIG. 85. OPUNTIA ROSEA.]
O. Salmiana (Prince Salm-Dyck's).--Stem erect, branching freely, the
branches at right angles to the stem. Joints from 1 in. to 6 in. long,
cylindrical, smooth, 1/2 in. in diameter, clothed with small cushions of
soft, short bristles, and one or two longish spines. Flowers produced in
September, 2 in. across, yellow, streaked with red, of short duration.
Fruit egg-shaped, 1 in. long, crimson. This species is a native of
Brazil, whence it was introduced in 1850. It requires to be grown in an
intermediate house. It is a charming little Cactus, and quite
exceptional among Opuntias in the colour and abundance of its flowers,
and in the rich colour of its numerous fruits, which usually remain on
the plant several months. The plant, too, has the merit of keeping dwarf
and compact. The small joints separate very easily from the branches,
and every one of them will root and grow into a plant. There is
something very remarkable in the development of the fruits of this kind.
A small branch, or joint, grows to its full length, and a flower-bud
appears in the apex. If examined at this stage, it will be seen that the
ovary occupies only a very shallow cavity in the top of the branch.
After flowering, this ovary grows into the branch, and ultimately the
whole branch is transformed into a pulpy fruit, with the seeds scattered
all through the pulp. This peculiarity is well shown in O. salmiana, and
the development of the fruit can be very easily watched. Many of the
small branches do not flower, although they change to a red colour like
O. spinosissima (very spiny).--Stem erect, woody. Joints very flat and
thin, deep green, ovate or rotund, from 6 in. to 1 ft. long. Cushions 1 in.
apart. Bristles very short. Spines in clusters of about five, the
longest 2 in. in length, brownish-yellow. Flowers reddish-orange, small,
usually only 2 in. across, produced in June. A native of South America;
naturalised in many parts of the Old World. The stem becomes cylindrical
with age, and sometimes is devoid of branches for about 5 ft. from the
ground. The plant requires stove treatment. Probably this kind is only a
form of O. Tuna.
O. subulata (awl-shaped).--Stem erect, cylindrical, even below,
channelled and tubercled above, about 2 in. in diameter. Joints long and
branch-like, with tufts of short, white hair on the apices of the
tubercles, and one or two white, needle-like spines from 1/2 in. to 1 in.
long. At the base of each tuft, from the apex to 1 ft. or more down the
younger branches, there is a fleshy, green, awl-shaped leaf, from 2 in.
to 5 in. long. Ultimately the leaves and spines fall away, the tubercles
are levelled down, and the mature stem is regular and cylindrical, with
tufts of white setae scattered over it. Flowers small, produced in
spring; sepals 2 in. long, green, deciduous; petals small, dull purple,
usually about eight in each flower. Fruit pear-shaped, 4 in. long; seeds
very large, nearly 1/2 in. long and wide. This handsome South American
species was the subject of an interesting communication to the
Gardeners' Chronicle, in 1884, from Dr. Engelmann. It had previously
been known as a Pereskia from the fact of its leaves being persistent
and very large. In its leaves, flowers, and seeds, O. subulata is one of
the most interesting of the genus. It is easily grown in a warm
greenhouse, and deserves a place in all collections of Cactuses.
O. Tuna (native name); Fig. 86.--An erect-stemmed, flat-jointed,
robust-growing species. Joints ovate, 4 in. to 9 in. long, with cushions
1 in. apart, composed of short, fulvous bristles, and several long,
needle-shaped, unequal, yellowish spines. Flowers borne on the upper
edges of the last-ripened joints, 3 in. across, reddish-orange, produced
in July. Fruit rich carmine, about 3 in. long, pear-shaped. The plant is
a native of the West Indies, &c., and was introduced in 1731. It has
already been stated, under O. spinosissima, that there is a close
similarity between that species and O. Tuna. We suspect, also, that O.
nigricans is another near relation of these two. They are much alike in
all characters, and they require the same treatment. O. Tuna has been
seen as much as 20 ft. in height.
[Illustration: FIG. 86. OPUNTIA TUNA.]
O. tunicata (coated-spined).--Stem sub-erect, cylindrical. Joints
club-shaped, variable in length, about 2 in. in diameter. When young the
surface is broken up into numerous oblong tubercles, each bearing a
small cushion of whitish, short hairs, and about half a dozen white
spines, unequal in length, the longest stout, and inclosed in a hard
sheath, which becomes broken and ragged when old. Flowers not known. A
native of Mexico, and introduced in 1840. It requires stove treatment.
O. vulgaris (common); Bot. Mag. 2393.--A low, prostrate, spreading
plant. Joints short, oval, flattened, thicker than in O. missouriensis,
3 in. long by about 2 in. broad. Spine-cushions 3/4 in. apart; tufts very
small, with, occasionally, a long spine. Leaves fleshy, very small.
Flowers 2 in. across, pale sulphur-yellow. Fruits nearly smooth, 11/2 in.
long, brown when ripe, with a strong disagreeable odour. The flowers are
produced freely in June. The plant grows wild in Mexico, and extends up
to New York, usually near the coast. It is now common in many parts of
Europe, where it has become naturalised. In Madeira it has taken
possession of all waste land, and is perfectly at home there. In England
it was cultivated by Gerard nearly 300 years ago. It grows rapidly if
planted in stony soil, in a position exposed to full sunshine, where it
will creep along the ground, and root all along its stems, which rarely
get elevated more than 6 in. from the ground. This species and O.
Ficus-indica are confused by some authors, owing, no doubt, to the name
O. vulgaris having been given by a botanist to the latter, which is a
much larger and very different-looking plant. O. vulgaris is capable of
withstanding our winters out of doors.
O. Whipplei (Captain Whipple's).--Stem usually prostrate, with slender,
elongated branches, which are cylindrical when old, broken up into short
joints when young. Joints varying in length from 2 in. to 1 ft., less than
1 in. in diameter. Cushions small, round. Spines white, variable in
number, and arranged in tufts on the ends of the tubercles, one being
1 in. long, the others shorter. Flowers nearly 2 in. in diameter, red,
borne in a cluster on the ends of the last-ripened joints in June. Fruit
1 in. long, with a cavity in the top. A compact, Mexican species, with
crowded branches, and very free-flowering. It requires stove treatment.
O. Whipplei is related to O. arborescens, from which, however, it is
easily distinguished by the latter having a stout central spine and
numerous radiating ones.
Of the 150 species of Opuntia known, about one-third have been selected
for description here, and amongst these will be found all the
best-marked kinds in the genus, and most of those of which we have any
knowledge. Botanists find good specific characters in the size and
structure of the seeds, in the character of the fruits, &c.; but for
horticultural purposes these are of little or no value.
THE GENUS PERESKIA.
(Named in honour of Nicholas F. Peresk, a botanist of Provence.)
The thirteen species included in the genus Pereskia differ so markedly
from all other kinds of Cactus, that at first sight one can scarcely
believe they are true Cactuses, closely related to Cereus and
Epiphyllum. They have erect or trailing stems and branches, and usually
form dense, large bushes; the branches are woody and thin, and bear
large, laurel-like leaves, which remain on the plants several years--so
that they may be termed evergreen. They have, however, the
spine-cushions, the tufts of woolly hair and stout spines, and the
floral characters which distinguish Cactuses from other plants; they are
also succulent, the leaves and young branches being soft and fleshy.
They appear to have the same peculiar provision for enabling them to
bear long periods of drought without suffering that characterises the
more familiar forms of Cactuses. The development of the spines in this
genus is different from what takes place in all other spiny plants of
this order. In the latter the spines are stoutest and most numerous on
the younger parts of the plant, the older or woody parts being either
spineless, through having cast them, or much less spiny than when they
were younger. Thus, in Opuntia we find few or no spines on the old parts
of the stems of even such species as O. horrida, O. nigricans, &c. In
Echinocactus, too, the spines about the base of old plants are much
fewer, if not entirely cast off, than on the upper part. In Pereskia the
contrary is the case. Taking P. aculeata as an example, this is best
known in gardens as having branches about as thick as a goose-quill,
with ovate leaves, at the base of which there is a pair of curved
spines, 1/4 in. long, and shaped like cats' claws. But this plant when it
gets old has a stem 3 in. in diameter, and clothed down to the ground
with cushions of spines fixed firmly in the bark, each cushion composed
of from twenty to fifty spines, and each spine 1 in. or more in length.
From two to six new spines are developed in the centre of each healthy
cushion annually. It would be absolutely impossible for any animal to
climb an old stem of a Pereskia. In P. Bleo the spines are 2 in. long,
and the cushions are much larger.
The flowers of Pereskias are borne singly or in panicles, at the ends of
the young, ripened branches. In shape, each flower may be compared to a
single Rose, the petals being flat and spreading, and the numerous
stamens forming a compact cluster in the centre. The stigma is erect,
and divided at the top into four or more rays. The fruit is a berry
shaped like a Gooseberry, and covered with minute clusters of short
All the species are found in tropical America and the West Indies.
Cultivation.--Although several of the kinds of Pereskia are
sufficiently ornamental to be deserving of a place in gardens as
flowering plants, yet they are rarely cultivated--in England, at least
--for any other purpose than that of forming stocks upon which
Epiphyllums and other Cacti are grafted. Only two species are used,
viz., P. aculeata and P. Bleo, the former being much the more popular of
the two; whilst P. Bleo, on account of the stoutness of its stems, is
employed for only the most robust kinds of grafts.
Propagation.--Both the above-named species may be propagated to any
extent, as every bit of branch with a leaf and eye attached is capable
of rooting and soon forming a stock. The practice among those who use
Pereskias as stocks for Epiphyllums is as follows: Cuttings of P.
aculeata are planted in sandy soil, in boxes, and placed on a shelf in a
stove till rooted. In about a month they are ready to be planted singly
in 3 in. pots, any light soil being used; and each plant is fastened to a
stake 1 ft. long. They are kept in a warm, moist house, all lateral
shoots being cut away, and the leader encouraged to grow as tall as
possible in the year. From December the plants are kept dry to induce
the wood to ripen, preparatory to their being used for grafting in
February. Stocks 9 in. or 1 ft. high are thus formed. If taller stocks are
required, the plants must be grown on till of the required length and
firmness. Large plants may be trained against a wall or along the
rafters in a warm house; and when of the required size, the branches may
be spurred back, and Epiphyllums, slender Cereuses, and similar plants,
grafted upon them. In this way very fine masses of the latter may be
obtained in much less time than if they were grown from small plants.
P. aculeata (prickly); West Indian or Barbados Gooseberry.--Stem woody,
more or less erect, branching freely, and forming a dense bush about
6 ft. high. Young branches leafy; old ones brown, leafless, clothed with
large cushions of long, stout, brown spines, sometimes 2 in. in length.
Leaves alternate, with very short petioles, at the base of which is a
pair of short spines, and a small tuft of wool in the axil; blade 3 in.
long by 2 in. broad, soft, fleshy, shining green. Flowers
semi-transparent, white, in terminal panicles; sepals and petals 3/4 in.
long by 1/4 in. wide; stamens in a large, spreading cluster, white, with
yellow anthers. Ovary covered with small cushions of short bristles,
with sometimes a solitary spine in the centre of each cushion. Fruit
1 in. long, egg-shaped, red, edible. There is a large plant of this in
the Succulent House at Kew which flowers almost annually, but it has
never ripened fruits. In the West Indies it is a very common shrub,
whilst at the Cape of Good Hope it is used for fences--and a capital
one it makes.
P. a. rubescens (reddish).--This variety has narrower, longer leaves,
which are glaucous-green above and tinged with red below; the spines on
the old stems are shorter and more numerous in each cushion. This
requires the same treatment as the type.
P. Bleo (native name); Fig. 87.--A stout, branching shrub, having an
erect stem, 3 in. or more in diameter, with green bark and very large
cushions of spines; cushion a round, hard mass of short, woolly hair,
from which the spines--about fifty in each cushion--radiate in all
directions; longest spines 2 in. or more in length; one or two new ones
are developed annually, and these are bright red when young, almost
black when ripe; young branches 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. in diameter. Leaves 1/2 in.
apart, 3 in. to 6 in. long by 1 in. to 2 in. wide, oblong, pointed, with
short petioles, and a small tuft of short, brown hair, with three or
more reddish spines, in the axil of each. Flowers on the ends of the
young, ripened branches, clustered in the upper leaf-axils, each flower
2 in. across, and composed of a regular circle of rosy-red petals, with a
cluster of whitish stamens in the centre. They remain on the plant
several weeks. Native of New Grenada. Probably P. grandiflora is the
same as this, or a slightly different form of it. A large specimen may
be obtained in a year or two by planting it in a well-drained bed of
loam, in a warm, sunny house. It blossoms almost all summer if allowed
to make strong growth. Pretty little flowering plants may be had by
taking ripened growths from an old plant, and treating them as cuttings
till rooted. In the following spring they are almost certain to produce
flowers. Plants 1 ft. high, bearing a cluster of flowers, are thus
annually obtained at Kew. Fig. 87 represents a short, stunted branch,
probably from a specimen grown in a pot. When planted out, the leaves
and spine-cushions are farther apart.
[Illustration: FIG. 87. PERESKIA BLEO.]
P. zinniaeflora (Zinnia-flowered); Fig. 88.--Stem erect, woody,
branching freely, the branches bearing oval, acuminate, fleshy,
wavy-edged, green leaves, with short petioles, and a pair of spines in
the axil of each. Spine-cushions on old stems crowded with stout, brown
spines. Flowers rosy-red, terminal on the ripened young shoots, and
composed of a whorl of broad, overlapping petals, with a cluster of
stamens in the centre, the whole measuring nearly 2 in. across. This
species is a native of Mexico; it grows and flowers freely if kept in a
[Illustration: FIG. 88. PERESKIA ZINNIAEFLORA.]
THE GENUS RHIPSALIS.
(From rhips, a willow-branch; referring to the flexible, wand-like
branches of some of the kinds.)
About thirty species of Rhipsalis are known, most of them more peculiar
than ornamental, although everyone is in some way interesting. They are
remarkable for the great variety in form and habit presented by the
different kinds, some of them much less resembling Cactuses than other
plants. Thus, in R. Cassytha, the long, fleshy, whip-like branches and
white berries are very similar to Mistletoe; R. salicornoides, with its
leafless, knotty branches, resembles a Salicornia, or Marsh Samphire;
another is like a Mesembryanthemum; and so on. The flowers are usually
small, and composed of numerous linear sepals and petals, arranged more