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Accepted Scientific Name: Mammillaria neopalmeri R.T.Craig
Mammill. Handbook 267. 1945 R.T.Craig
Origin and Habitat: San Benito and Guadalupe Islands, Baja California, Mexico.
Altitude: Sea level to 300 metres above sea level.
Habitat: Mammillaria neopalmeri is one of the more conspicuous plants on the San Benitos island, where over considerable areas, particularly on Middle Island, has established itself as the dominant plant. It covers Central Island like a blanket of grey cotton. Other endemic plants are Dudleya linearis and Hemizonia streetsii.
- Mammillaria neopalmeri R.T.Craig
Mammillaria neopalmeri R.T.Craig
Mammill. Handbook 267. 1945
- Mammillaria neopalmeri R.T.Craig
- Mammillaria dioica var. insularis K.Brandegee
- Mammillaria palmeri (J.M.Coult.) Boed.
Description: Mammillaria neopalmeri is a low growing cactus species usually forming clusters or cushions. It is a gynodioecious species consisting both of hermaphroditic and gynoecious plants.
Stem: Globose to somewhat elongated or shortly cylindrical, grey-green to glaucous, up to 9 cm tall and 5 cm across. Without latex.
Tubercle: Conical, blunt pointed, four-sided basally, 4 mm high, latex free. Axil with abundant white wool and short twisted bristles. Parastichy number 8-13.
Areoles: Wolly at the end of the tubercles.
Radial spine: (15-)20-25(-30), slender, needle-like, white, 3-6 mm long.
Central spine: (2-) 4 (-5), straight or occasionally hooked, brownish with darker ends, 6-8 mm long.
Flower: Diurnal, actinomorphic, pale greenish white to light green, sometimes with pinkish tint, to 10-12 mm long and in diameter. Pistil in olive green, stigmas yellowish.
Blooming season: Summer.
Fruit: Club shaped, scarlet red , to 13 mm long.
Remarks: The name “neopalmeri” (new palmeri) has been introduced to disambiguate a very tangled taxonomic question, because the name Mammillaria palmeri was previously published by Jacobi 1856, for another (not clearly identified plant) and necessitated the adoption of a new name to reclassify "Cactus palmeri" in the genus Mammillaria.
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) Scripps Institution of Oceanography “Contributions - Scripps Institution of Oceanography” 1953
5) United States. Minerals Management Service, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History “Proceedings of the Fifth California Islands Symposium: 29 March to 1 April 1999, Volume 1” Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, 2002
Mammillaria dioica var. neopalmeri (Mammillaria neopalmeri) Photo by: Alexander Arzberger
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Cultivation and Propagation: Mammillaria neopalmeri is somewhat difficult to cultivate. 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, recommended for any collection that needs lots of light with ample airflow.
Growth rate: It is a small growing, but easily flowering species. It takes several years to offset, but once it starts it can form a large bunch in just a few years given the best conditions.
Soils: Use a an open and free draining mineral compost with little organic matter (peat, humus) that allows therefore roots to breath (as it is rot prone).
Repotting: Repotting every 2-3 years. As it is especially prone to rot under-pot in a smaller container filled with very porous compost. Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: It likes a 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. Keep dry with ample airflow in winter. In the rest period no high atmospheric humidity!! Care must be taken with watering as they tends to become swollen and untidy in growth habit if given too much water and shade.
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: 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. Some warmth throughout the year will increase the grower's success.
Exposition: 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. Tends to bronze in strong light, which encourages flowering and heavy wool and spine production.
Uses: It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small. It look fine in a cold greenhouse and frame.
Pests & diseases: It 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: Sensitive to red spider mite. Overhead watering is helpful in controlling mites.
- Mealy bugs: Occasionally mealy bugs they develop aerial into the new growth among the wool with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: Rot it is only a minor problem with cacti if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: Direct sow after last frost or cutting. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21-27° C in spring, remove the glass cover gradually as the plants develops and keep ventilated, no full sun for young plants! The seedlings should not be disturbed until they are well rooted, after which they can be planted separately in small pots. Cuttings: wait until the offsets that appear at the base of old clustered specimens are 1/3 the size of the parent and then detach and plant. 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.
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