Saturday, September 18, 2010

Capricorne Ascendant

I'm very fond of the genus Astrophytum. For one thing, I find its members easy to identify, which is rare for me when it comes to cactus. For another thing, they are interesting-looking plants, often quite uncactus-like, which is probably why I find them easy to recognize. In addition, there are relatively few Astrophytum species (six, according to one book I read) which also helps me keep track. That also makes it easy to collect them all, if one limits oneself to the basic species. (There are a lot of really fancy cultivated varieties out there. Some of them are absolutely gorgeous. Others look overbred and precious, at least in my opinion.) So far, I have an A. ornatum, an A. asterias, and an A. capricorne. I have been thwarted twice by Astrophytum myriostigma, which insisted on rotting and dying. Both plants got cool and wet simultaneously, which is a Very Bad Thing for cactus in general.

Of the species, Astrophytum capricorne, is one with a more typically cactus-like appearance.

Astrophytum capricorne, also known as Goat's Horn cactus, with its tangled topknot of spines.

This week my A. capricorne gave me one more reason to appreciate it: It bloomed for the first time.

Flower starting to open

A. capricorne in flower. This is as open as the flower got. For one thing, I think it would be difficult for it to open wider, as its base was surrounded by a virtual cage of thorns. For another, the weather has been cloudy and a bit rainy for the past couple of days, which can put a damper on cactus flowers.

Fully open or not, it was a lovely flower, quite a bit larger than those I had seen on my Astrophytum asterias. The red and yellow coloration was richer, too.

Closed, spent blossom rising above the spines

Actually, I was quite surprised that it flowered at all, as I thought it was still an immature plant. For one thing, it had very few spines when I bought it a few years ago. It has only been in the past year that they've started to look like they mean business. For another, the plant hasn't increased in size very much. It has been in this 2.5 inch pot since I brought it home.

1 comment:

Rainforest Gardener said...

Now that is cool! I would have been interested in it for just the wicked spines, but that flower is stunning!