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It is an attractive and well worth cultivating dwarf plant; it starts flowering from an early age and blooms from spring until late summer, with nice large, deep pink blooms. In the resting period it will not be damaged by some frost.
Origin and Habitat: Southwestern USA, Texas: It is endemic to a small area in the maraton basin (Brewster County) and west of Sanderson (Terrel county)
Habitat: Semidesert grasslands and oak-juniper-pinyon woodlands on dry, gravely limestone hills, alluvial fans, rock crevices, and often on outcrops of novaculite (a hard, fine-grained, silica-rich rock) , sandstone, limestone and several other types of sedimentary and igneous substrates. Elevational range is 1200-1600 metres. No significant differences have been reported in plant from the different substrates.
ENGLISH: Hester’s Foxtail Cactus, Hester’s Pincushion Cactus
Description: Escobaria hesteri is a dwarf cactus unbranched, except in old age, ultimately offsetting to form clusters & eventually, low many-stemmed mounds 5-20(-30) cm diameter.
Stems: Short stubby egg-shaped up to 4 cm wide, not obscured by spines when hydrated, obscured when desiccated. In nature the stem is deep-seated in the soil, the aerial aerial parts are inconspicuous, flat-topped to hemispheric (to ovoid or spheric in horticulture), almost completely withdrawing into substrate when desiccated, 5-9 × 1.5-4.5 cm, above-ground portion 1-6.5; tubercles 5-9 × 4-6 mm; areolar glands absent.
Roots: Short, fleshy, enlarged taproots merging with the stem.
Spines: 5-20 per areole, all radial ± equal, with the upper 1-3 sometime interpreted as central. Very thin & white with brown tips (quickly weathering to grey) creating a decorative starry effect against the deep green stems; Appressed, straight, laterally compressed at base, 6-13 mm long;
Central spines: Usually absent (occasionally up to 3 up to 13 mm long).
Flowers: Small but showy near the top of the stems (18-25 long × 20-34 mm in diameter) , gorgeous deep rose-purple to magenta with a paler throat. Outer tepals fringed; inner tepals 22-27 per flower proximally paler, 10-17 × 2-4 mm; outer filaments colourless or white to rose; anthers orange-yellow; stigma lobes 5-6, white, cream, or pale pink, 1-3 mm.
Blooming season: A prolific bloomer, it blooms intermittently in spring & occasionally in summer and autumn.
Fruits: Green, spherical or obovoid, 5-8 × 3-6 mm, quickly drying; floral remnant usually persistent.
Fruiting time: August-October or in January.
Seeds: Dark brown, spheric, 0.9-1.1 mm, pitted.
Notes: E. hesteri and Escobaria minima (From an adjacent hill) are two miniature plant which resemble dwarf races of Escobaria vivipara, to wich they shares some characteristic, but much smaller in all parts. They can survive to –25°C in dry-winter regions.
Escobaria hesteri Photo by: Alexander Arzberger
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Cultivation and Propagation: Very slow-growing, but easy to cultivate. Water regularly in summer, but do not over-water. It prefers a completely dry place during winter with much drainage. An unheated greenhouse would be perfect. It can survive low temperatures (approx. -12 C). Full sun to light shade
Propagation: Easy to propagate from seed, cuttings and grafting.
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