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Accepted Scientific Name: Ferocactus glaucescens
Cactaceae (Britton & Rose) 3: 137. 1922
A large specimen at "Rosa Del Deserto" cactus nursery, Corigliano d'Otranto in the heart of Salento, just 20 kilometers from Lecce. Italy.
Origin and Habitat: Garden origin (Nursery produced). The wild species occurs over a considerable range from Guanajuato to Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Hidalgo (Meztitlan, Toliman and Jacala) in Eastern central Mexico.
Ferocactus glaucescens (DC.) Britton & Rose
Cactaceae (Britton & Rose) 3: 137. 1922
- Ferocactus glaucescens (DC.) Britton & Rose
- Bisnaga glaucescens DC., Orcutt
- Echinocactus glaucescens DC.
- Echinocactus pfeifferi Zucc. in Pfeiff.
- Ferocactus pfeifferi (Zucc. & sine ref.) Backeb.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. cristata
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus monstuosus clone A
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus monstuosus clone B
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. variegatum hort.
Description: The classical Ferocactus glaucescens is a solitary or basally suckering, barrel cactus. Multiple heads are produced as the plant ages and can form a very large mound. The crested form (Ferocactus glaucescens f. cristata)
has pale glaucous grey-green and is heavily ribbed with numerous areoles sprouting radial, yellow spines. It can also get very big making a spectacular specimen. A very few crested plants sprout unpredictably time by time among normal green seedling and are very rare. Plants with crested stems are often attractive and highly prized.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Ferocactus pottsii complex
(This Taxon belong to a group of six closely allied species. The group is: Ferocactus alamosanus, Ferocactus schwarzii, Ferocactus reppenhagenii, Ferocactus glaucescens, & Ferocactus echidne)
- Ferocactus alamosanus Britton & Rose: has usually about 20 acute ribs, heavy spination, and only grows to 25 cm high.
- Ferocactus glaucescens (DC.) Britton & Rose: glaucous (blue grey-green) with nice light golden spines, as the plant ages can form a very large mound.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. cristata: Crested form.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus monstuosus clone A: crested form of Ferocactus glaucescens cv. Split Rock with irregular fan-shaped stem, that looks like an old weathered rock.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus monstuosus clone B: crested form with irregular fan-shaped stem and areoles often merging to form horizontal bands.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus cristatus: Crested form.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. nudus: spines are absent or very few (1 to 3 not distinguishable from radials to centrals) irregularly scattered on the areoles of young individuals.
- Ferocactus glaucescens f. variegatum hort.: has sectors, patches or stripes with distinct shades of yellow.
- Ferocactus glaucescens cv. Split Rock hort.: is monstrous barrel cactus that looks like an old weathered rock. The epidermis starts soon to split open assuming the appearance of a rock surface.
- Ferocactus hybrid alamosanus x schwarzii hort.
- Ferocactus hybrid alamosanus x schwarzii f. variegatus hort.
- Ferocactus reppenhagenii G.Unger: has 12-18 rounder ribs and connecting areoles and will grow up to about 70-100 cm.
- Ferocactus reppenhagenii f. cristatus hort.: crested form.
- Ferocactus schwarzii G.E.Linds.: Younger plants have usually 4 to 5 (or more) gold coloured spines. As they age the number of spines decreases and old plant are nearly spineless or have only 1 or 2 spines.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 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) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 4, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1923,
5) Sánchez , E., Guadalupe Martínez, J. & Bárcenas Luna, R. 2013. Ferocactus glaucescens. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 February 2014.
Cultivation and Propagation: Ferocactus glaucescens f. cristata is a fairly easy plant to grow both grafted or in its own roots. During the summer it is best to keep the plants outside where the temperature can rise to over 30 C with no harm to the plant. Furnish good drainage and use a an open and free draining mineral compost that allows therefore roots to breath. They like only a short winter's rest and should be kept almost completely dry during the winter months, If the soil is allowed to be dry for too long root loss could follow but equally the same result would occur if the plants are both wet and cold. From March onwards the plant will begin to grow and watering should be increased gradually until late May when the plant should be in full growth.
Water regularly during the summer so long as the plant pot is allowed to drain and not sit in a tray of water. During hot weather you may need to water the plants more frequently so long as the plant is actively growing. From late September watering should be reduced to force the plant to go in to a state of semi dormancy, by October you should be back in to the winter watering regime.
Need full sun avoiding only the harshest summer sun, if kept too dark they may become overly lush and greener and could be prone to rotting due to over watering.
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. Grown specimens resist to -4°C for a short time, but it is best to keep above 5° C to avoid ugly spots on the plant epidermis. Prefers a position in full sun, which will help to maintain the lustre of the spines. Besides, it performs wonderfully in containers, Container media should be coarse as well.
Propagation: From cuttings or grafting on a large strong under-stock.
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