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Origin and Habitat: Echinocereus spinigemmatus has a very small extent of occurrence in the Mexican states of Jalisco and Zacatecas in the drainage areas of Rio Huaynamota and Rio Balanos.
Altitude range: This cactus grows at altitudes of 1,000 to 1,800 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This plant occurs in lava soils with humus on conglomerate rocks presumably in xerophytic shrubland together with Echinocereus pamanesiorum, and Coryphantha tripugionacantha. Nothing is known about any threats for Echinocereus spinigemmatus.
- Echinocereus spinigemmatus A.B.Lau
Description: Echinocereus spinigemmatus is a caespitose cactus forming lax clumps of 7-10 stems. They have yellow spination and produce very beautiful pinkish lilac to magenta flowers with spiny tube. The first description by Alfred Bernhard Lau was published in 1984. The name is considered as validly published.
Derivation of specific name: The epithet spinigemmatus derives from the Latin words “spina”, thorn 'or' spine' and “gemmatus”, having buds. It refers to the spiny flower buds of the species.
Stems: Cylindrical, branching from the base, gradually tapering toward the tips, green, to 30 cm tall, 4-7 cm in cross section.
Ribs: 10-14, somewhat tuberculate.
Central spines: 2-4, not readily distinguishable from the radials, yellowish, erect, 5-40 mm long.
Radial spines: 10-13, slender, yellowish, 3-23 mm long.
Flowers: The flowers are sub-terminal produced from near the apex, funnel-shaped, pinkish lilac to pale violet, 4-5 cm long, 5-6 cm across.
Fruits: Egg-shaped, green, very spiny.
Related species: Echinocereus spinigemmatus shows a mix of morphological characteristics that led some authors to place it in the Echinocereus reichenbachii section, while other - on the basis of flower buds - placed it in relation with Echinocereus sciurius and Echinocereus bristolii v. pseudopectinatus. G.Frank in 1985 put it in relation with Echinocereus viereckii and Echinocereus fendleri var. ledingii, but Nigel P. Taylor believes it is unacceptable for its subapical flowers, young fruits with a conical base, small seeds and the diversity of their habitats. Today the common idea is that E. spinigemmatus is vegetatively close to the Echinocereus subinermis group, because the spination and elongated stems remind the Echinocereus stoloniferus, ignoring the yellow flowers of the latter. Furthermore, this relation is more likely if we keep in mind that the habitats of Echinocereus stoloniferus and of Echinocereus subinermis are both on the ridges of the Sierra Madre Occidental.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Edward F. Anderson "The Cactus Family." Timber Press, Portland (Oregon) 2001
2) 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
3) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
4) Nigel P. Taylor “The Genus Echinocereus” Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 1985
5) Fitz Maurice, B, Fitz Maurice, W.A., Hernández, H.M. & Sotomayor, M. 2013. Echinocereus spinigemmatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 April 2015.
6) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names.” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
7) Alfred Bernhard Lau “Erstbeschreibung: Echinocereus spinigemmatus Lau.” In: Kakteen und andere Sukkulenten. 35(11): 249-250.1984
8) Christoper Brickell (Editor-in-chief): “RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.” Third edition. Dorling Kindersley, London 2003
Cultivation and Propagation: Echinocereus spinigemmatus is a summer-growing species of easy cultivation. It is adapted to dry soils and is quite susceptible to over-watering if kept in a non ventilated place.
Growth rate: Slow-growing.
Soil: Grow it in an open mineral, sandy-gritty cactus compost and provide a very good drainage.
Exposure: It is suited for sunny-brightly exposure, but can tolerate light shade. However it will do its best only with lots of sun and become stressed with inadequate light which could result in poor growth and unnatural shape. It has a good heat tolerance.
Watering: Water sparingly and keep it completely dry during winter. Mature individuals easily rot and die especially after transplanting 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.
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.
Special need: It is suited for airy exposures. 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. They must have very dry atmosphere.
Hardiness: It likes warmth (recommended minimum winter temperature 5° C) But plants kept perfectly dry can easily survive to frequent moderate frost, above approx -7° C.
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 leaves and flowers with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales, thrips and aphids: These insects are rarely a problem.
- 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: Seed or cuttings. 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. The seedlings should not be disturbed until they are well rooted after which they can be planted separately in small pots.
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