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Origin and Habitat: Coryphantha pallida is endemic to Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico, occurring in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley.
Altitude: It grows at elevations of 1000 to 2450 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: It is common but not abundant and grows in low tropical caduceus forest and xerophyllous scrub on foot-hill slopes and part of lower hills mostly on alluvial calcareous gravel. It is often associated with with Mammillaria napina, Mammillaria conspicua, Mammillaria heidiae and Ferocactus latispinus.
- Coryphantha pallida Britton & Rose
Coryphantha pallida Britton & Rose
Cactaceae (Britton & Rose)
- Coryphantha pallida Britton & Rose
- Coryphantha loricata (Mart.) Lem.
- Coryphantha reduncispina Boed.
Coryphantha pallida subs. calipensis (Bravo ex S.Arias, S.Gama López & U.Guzmán) Dicht & A.Lüthy
J. Mammillaria Soc. 40(4): 50 (2000)
- Coryphantha pallida subs. calipensis (Bravo ex S.Arias, S.Gama López & U.Guzmán) Dicht & A.Lüthy
Coryphantha pallida subs. pseudoradians (Bravo) U.Guzmán & Vázq.-Ben.
Cactaceae Syst. Init. 6: 16 (11 Oct. 2003). Remarks: first published in U.Guzmán et al., Catálogo Cact. Mex.: 40 (May 2003), without basionym reference
- Coryphantha pallida subs. pseudoradians (Bravo) U.Guzmán & Vázq.-Ben.
Description: Coryphantha pallida, as specified by epithet states, is characterized by “pallid” flowers.
Two subspecies are recognized, the typical form and susbp. calipensis (Bravo ex Arias, U.Guzmán & S.Gama) Dicht & A.Lüthy.
Habit: It is a slow-growing, spherical, perennial succulent, either solitary or forming groups of about 10 or more stems.
Stems: Globose to obovate, short and thick, closely set, glaucous-grey-green, 8-12 cm in diameter.
Tubercles: Close set, short, thick and rhomboid at the base in 13 rows, , up to 10 mm long. Axils at first woolly, becoming bare.
Central spines: Usually 3 (sometime more), black or whitish with black tips, or sometimes black throughout, up to 15 mm long, the two upper more or less erect, the lower one porrect or curving downward.
Radial spines: 20 or more, slightly bent, flattened against the stem surface, white.
Flowers: Pale lemon yellow very large, often 6-7 cm long and in diameter. Outer perianth -segments narrow, greenish yellow, with a reddish stripe on back. Inner perianth-segments pale lemon-yellow, broader than outermost, acuminate. Ovary bearing a few narrow scales. Stamens deep red, numerous. Style yellow, longer than stamens, stigma-lobes 9.
Fruits: Greenish brown, to 20 mm long.
Seeds: Brown, shining, broader at apex than below.
Remarks: Coryphantha pseudoradians usually without central spines grows only a few kilometers to Tejupan where Coryphantha pallida grows with its normal number of central spines from 0-3 and as this link and the otherwise identical features of C. pseudoradians and C. pallida prove, it is impossible to differentiate between these taxa.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Coryphantha pallida group
- Coryphantha pallida Britton & Rose
- Coryphantha pallida subs. calipensis (Bravo ex S.Arias, S.Gama López & U.Guzmán) Dicht & A.Lüthy: Has larger tubercles, fewer and shorter radial spines and shows a strong clustering habit. Distribution: east of ssp. pallida, without any interference between the two forms.
- Coryphantha pallida subs. pseudoradians (Bravo) U.Guzmán & Vázq.-Ben.: Central spines are usually not formed. Rarely are one or two available. Distribution: Sierra Mixteca, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Arias, S., Zavala-Hurtado, A. & Hernández, C. 2013. Coryphantha pallida. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 14 January 2014.
2) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
4) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) Nathaniel Lord Britton, Joseph Nelson Rose “Cactaceae: Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family” vol. 4 The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1923
6) Dr. med. Reto F. Dicht, Adrian D. Lüthy “Coryphantha: Cacti of Mexico and Southern USA” Springer, 2005
7) Reto F. Dicht, Adrian D. Lüthy "A new conspectus of the genus Coryphantha." In: Cactaceae Systematics Initiatives. Number 11, 2001.
8) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
9) Helia Bravo-Hollis “Coryphantha pseudoradians n. sp.” In: Anales del Instituto de Biológia de la Universidad Nacional de México. volume 25, number 1–2, 9) 527–528 1954
Cultivation and Propagation: In culture Coryphantha pallida is without problems and regularly shows its large yellow flowers. It is a summer-growing species of easy cultivation but sensitive to overwatering (rot prone).
Growth rate: Slow growing. It needs about 8-12 years to reach the typical, definite outlook.
Soil: Grow it in an open sandy-gritty cactus compost.
Pots: It needs a relatively shallow pot to accommodate its fibrous roots and provide a very good drainage. They may stay in the same pot for many years.
Watering: Water in moderation, it prefer a completely dry place during winter. Mature individuals easily rot and die especially after planting so be extremely cautious with watering. Keep dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 10° C. Water it less than average if in bigger pots.
Special need: Provide very good ventilation. Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid.
Fertilization: Feed them once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.
Exposure: It will do its best with lots of sun and become stressed with inadequate light which could result in poor growth and unnatural shape.
Hardiness: It likes warmth (recommended minimum winter temperature 5° C) however plants kept perfectly dry can can survive low temperatures, approx. -5°, but for safe cultivation it is best to avoid freezing temperatures.
Use: It can be cultivated outdoors in raised beds, terraces if sheltered from winter rain.
Pests & diseases: These cacti may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the plants from above.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new growth and flowers with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Rot: Rot is only a minor problem if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: Seeds. The seeds can be sown in pots of fine, well-drained sandy soil, any time during the spring when temperatures are warm. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit and water from below with a fungicide to prevent damping off. For the 1-2 weeks cover the pots with a sheet of glass/clear perspex to keep the humidity levels high. Remove the glass and replace it with light shade-cloth and mist once or twice a day for the next two weeks after which most seeds should have germinated. From then on mistings can be reduced to every second and then every third day as the little plants grow.
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