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Accepted Scientific Name: Frailea chiquitana Cárdenas
Natl. Cact. Succ. J. vi. 8 (1951).
Origin and Habitat: Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar)
Frailea chiquitana Cárdenas
Natl. Cact. Succ. J. vi. 8 (1951).
- Frailea chiquitana Cárdenas
- Astrophytum chiquitanum (Cárdenas) Halda & Malina
- Frailea chiquitana f. cristata hort.
- Frailea larae R.Vásquez
- Frailea pullispina Backeb.
- Astrophytum pullispinum (Backeb.) Halda & Malina
Description: The typical Frailea chiquitana is a dwarf cactus with unique and remarkably beautiful shape that is grown for its tiny purple stems. The beautiful crested form (Frailea chiquitana f. cristata) is very rare in collection and highly priced for its sculptural shape.
Habit: Frailea chiquitana is a s small depressed perennial stem succulent, usually solitary, rarely offsetting or many-stemmed forming low, flat clusters that grow deeply seated flat to the ground surface. Only in cultivation plants may have a spherical till columnar shape.
Roots: Conical, tuberous, with fine lateral diffuse roots.
Crested stems: Fan shaped, more or less convolute 2,5-3,5(-4) cm thick yellowish or bluish green or tinged with purplish and with a dark purple-brown lunate, blots situated below the areoles.
Ribs: Very small size (16 mm from rib tip to rib tip) straight, low and broken up into conspicuous, blunt tubercles 2-3 mm in diameter, often with pronounced reddish markings beneath.
Areoles: Large elliptical, prominent, white to dark brown often with persistent white wool.
Spines: Not or slightly interlaced. to 3 mm, whitish or more often dark brown to blackish.
Central spines: Absent, occasionally 1 to 3 dark brown, up to 3 mm long.
Radial spines: (4-)5-8(-12) pectinate, bristle-like, whitish, adpressed up to 3 mm long.
Flowers: Apical, diurnal, radial, funnelform to bell shaped, light to sulphur yellow from the top of the plant, 1,7-2(-3,2) mm long 2,2-2,5(-4) cm wide. Buds with light brown wool. Tepals attenuate-acute. Stigma-lobes 5-7, to 5,5 mm very slender.
Fruit: Dry indehiscent with scales and bristles that detach easily up to 10 mm in diameter, pericarp membranous, fragile that break easily releasing the seed.
Seeds: 2 mm in diameter, shiny dark brown to blackish. smooth. hilum elongate-ovate-oblong. The seed is shaped strangely for a cactus , and is often described as “hat” or “boat” shaped with a prominent edge. That is a good description, for it is among the few cactus seeds that float! They are thought to be dispersed in habitat by floating away on runoff.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Frailea chiquitana group
- Frailea chiquitana Cárdenas: has green or purplish stems with dark purple-brown lunate, blots below the areoles. This species show no cleistogamous flowers. Distribution: Chiquitos and Cordillera province, department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
- Frailea chiquitana f. cristata hort.: crested form. Garden origin.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Walther Haage “Kakteen von A bis Z”, Neumann Verlag 1981
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) Succulenta 49(9): front cover (Illustration) 1970
5) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
6) Sara Oldfield “Cactus and Succulent Plants: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan” IUCN, 01/gen/1997
7) Curt Backeberg “Cactus Lexicon: Enumeratio Diagnostica Cactacearum” Blandford Press, 01/Jan/1977
8) Cullman, W. et al. “The Encyclopedia of Cacti” Alpha Books, 1984
9) National Cactus and Succulent Journal. Volume 6, page 8. 1951
Cultivation and Propagation: It is not too difficult in a greenhouse, although grows quite slowly. It is usually seen as a grafted plant but grows on its own roots too.
Soil: Use a rich well permeable mineral soil with little organic matter (peat, humus).
Exposure: They need a good amount of light shade to full sun this help to keep the plants healthy, although slow growth.
Watering: Water sparingly from March till October (weekly during summertime, if the weather is sunny enough), with a little fertilizer added. Less or no water during cold winter months, or when night temperatures remain below 10° to prevent root loss. It is sensitive to overwatering (rot prone).
Fertilization: Feeding may not be necessary at all if the compost is fresh then, feed in summer only if the plant hasn't been repotted recently. Do not feed the plants from September onwards as this can cause lush growth which can be fatal during the darker cold months.
Hardiness: These plants need a minimum temperature of 5-10° C (but occasionally temperatures of a few degrees below 0° are not dangerous).
Crested growth: Unlike 'monstrose' varieties of plants, where the variation from normal growth is due to genetic mutation, crested growth can occur on normal plants. Sometimes it's due to variances in light intensity, or damage, but generally the causes are unknown. A crested plant may have some areas growing normally, and a cresting plant that looks like a brain, may revert to normal growth for no apparent reason. If you have any of the crested part left you need to remove the normal growth and leave the crested part behind this will need to be done regularly.
Propagation: Grafting or cuttings. Plants are usually grafted onto column-shaped cacti but proved to be able to produce their own roots if degrafted. Cuttings will take root in a minimum temperature of 20° C (but better in hot weather). Cuttings of healthy shoots can be taken in the spring and summer. Cut the stem with a sharp, sterile knife, leave the cutting in a warm, dry place for a week or weeks (depending on how thick the cutting is) until a callus forms over the wound. Once the callus forms, the cutting may be inserted in a container filled with firmed cactus potting mix topped with a surface layer of coarse grit. They should be placed in the coarse grit only; this prevents the cut end from becoming too wet and allows the roots to penetrate the rich compost underneath. The cuttings should root in 2 to 6 weeks. Large crested piece must be placed on the soil surface without burying the plant base down in the soil.
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