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Origin and Habitat: Pachyphytum bracteosum is known only from cliffs of the Barranca de Metztitlán and its tributaries, south of Metztitlán (Cañón de Venados, La Paila, Tajo de Caballero, Barranca del Río Amajaque)in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. It grows on the escarpments on both sides of the Barranca from the bottom to 1,800 metres and is particularly abundant from Jihuico to a little beyond Metztitlán.
Habiat: Limestone cliff.
ENGLISH: Silverbracts, Moon-stones, Moonstones
Description: Pachyphytum bracteosum, a member of Stonecrops (Family Crassulaceae) is a fascinating little plant with very plump, silvery-grey leaves tending to pink and producing very remarkable bracteated spikes of flowers. The whole plant is covered with a thick glaucous bloom. The inflorescence shows a most striking contrast between the red colour of the petals and the pale glaucous hue of the large calyx and bracts and all the rest of the plant and the flowers are more readily brought into view by the curvature of the spikes. Pachyphytum bracteosum is one of the most attractive of the twelve species in its genus.
Habit: A glaucous succulent undershrub solitary or (usually) little branched near base.
Stem: Erect or becoming decumbent,10-30 cm long, 1.2-2.5 cm in diameter, fleshy, thick, with few thick branches scarred below with the fallen leaves. The scars formed by the fallen leaves orbicular
Leaves: Leaves 15-35 in rosette, somewhat separated, turgid, spreading and clothing the upper part of the stem, at first crowded, later distant, fairly erect, obovate to club-shaped, typically more than twice as long as broad, 7-11 long, 2.5-5 cm broad to 6-14 cm thick (more rounder in juvenile specimens) upper side flat or concave, convex beneath, tapering towards the base. The base where set upon the stem dilated. Apex obtuse or rounded. often mucronate. Silvery grey or light blue bloomed with sometimes a mauve flush with more sun,.
Inflorescence: Lateral from among the leaves. Scape 15-50 cm long, 3-10 mm thick, slender, unbranched, glaucous, often reddish, at first nodding, abscissing in age, leafless in lower 12-20 cm, above sparingly clothed with scaly bracteal leaves. Cincinnus (flower spike) one sided, recurved, close, (8-)10-15(-25) cm long singularly drooping eventually erect with 10-28 flowers. Bracts imbricate at first, elliptic, obtuse, sagittate, or narrow spathulate, 13-27 mm long, 7-14 mm wide, 1-3 mm thick, these oblong deciduous, fleshy, glaucous often tinged with red; pedicels 3-6 mm long, 1.5-2 mm thick.
Flowers: Calyx, ample, fleshy 2.5 cm long campanulate 6-10 mm wide at pentagonal base, deeply cut into five, ovate-oblong segments (sepals) 1.4-2 cm long,, the two upper lateral sepals imbricate before and after anthesis, elliptic-ovate, obtuse to rounded, these glaucous, fleshy, subfoliaceous, considerably longer than the petals. Petals five dull pink with dark red ventrally, 9 mm oblong acuminate. Stamens five free alternating with the petals, five smaller ones with short filaments fused with the petals. Anthers ovate. Nectar glands white or yellowish, 0.6-0.9 mm high, 1.5-2.5 mm wide. Ovaries five oblong with a fleshy disc at their base. Gynoecium 5.5-8 mm high, 4-6 mm thick, yellowish white below, dark red above, the pistils free, narrowing to short subulate styles ca. 1-2 mm long; ovules ca. 200. Stigmas capitate.
Blooming season: Late winter (eventually also in late-summer-autumn and perhaps other months too).
Fruits (Follicles): Ascending, to 9 mm long.
Seeds: Red-brown, obovoid-oblong, 0.7-0.8 mm long, 0.3-0.4 mm wide, the surface reticulate, with 10-12 low ridges.
Chromosome number: n = 33, 66.
Remarks: P. bracteosum had been one of the "most prolific" specie in producing garden hybrids between Echeveria and Pachyphytum, and is often difficult to find plants true to name from garden and nurseries, which suggests that outcrossing may be the rule.
Notes: The white pruinose stem coatings of the plants in our collection sometime is not so intense as those of the plants in their natural habitat but the difference in coating is thought due to the higher humidity and less intense sunlight of our climate.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Sir William Jackson Hooker, David Prain, Otto Stapf “Curtis's Botanical Magazine” Volume 82 Tab 4951. Reeve Brothers, 1856
2) A. J. van Laren “Succulents other than cacti” Abbey San Encino Press, 1934
3) Succulenta 38: 20 1959
4) Werner Rauh “The Wonderful World of Succulents: Cultivation and Description of Selected Succulent Plants Other Than Cacti” Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984
5) 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/ago/2011
6) Hermann Jacobsen ”A Handbook of Succulent Plants: Abromeitiella to Euphorbia” Blandford Press, 1960
7) Urs Eggli “Illustrated Handbook of Succulent Plants: Dicotyledons” Volume 2. Springer, 2002
8) C. H. Uhl & R. Moran "The chromosomes of Pachyphytum (Crassulaceae)" in Amer. J. Bot., 60: 648-656, 1973, figs. 1-31.
9) John Lindley “Paxton's Flower Garden. By Lindley and Joseph Paxton” Volume 3 Bradbury and Evans, 1853
10) Britton, N. L., and J. N. Rose. 1905. Crassulaceae. N. Amer. F1. 22: 7-74.
11) Brown, J. R. 1952. Pachyphytum bracteosum. Cact. Succ. J. 24: 33, 36-37, figs. 14, 17.
12) Castellá, M. T. 1961. "Relate de la IX Convención de Cactus Succulent Society." Cact. Suc. Mex. 6: 63-68, figs. 36-38.
13) Funamoto, T., H.Yuasa and N.Kondo. 1985."Chromosome numbers on some species of the genus Pachyphytum and Graptopetalum (Crassulaceae)." Chromosome Information Service 38: 31-32.
14) Hooker, W. J. 1856. Pachyphytum bracteosum. Curtis's Bot. Mag. 82: pl. 4951.
15) Klotzsch, J. F. 1841. "Beschreibung einer neuen mexikanischen Pflanze: Pachyphytum bracteosum." Allg. Gartenzeitung 9: 9-11.
16) Lindley, J., and J. Paxton. 1853. "Gleanings and original memoranda." Paxton's Fl. Gard. 3: 55-62, figs. 257-263.
17) Link, J. F. H., J. F. Klotzsch, and C. F. Otto. 1844. Pachyphytum bracteosum N. Icones plantarum rariorum horti regii botanici berolinensis 2: 107-109, pl. 43.
18) Meyrán, J. 1963. "Observaciones sobre Pachyphytum glutinicaule." Cact. Suc. Mex. 8: 62-68, 75-76, figs. 39-43.
19) Moran, R. 1963. "Pachyphytum brevifolium Rose and P. glutinicaule, a new species from Hidalgo, Mexico." Cact. Succ. J. 35: 35-41, figs. A-E.
20) Otero, F. 1970. "Exploraciones cactologicas en el Estado de Hidalgo." Cact. Suc. Mex. 15: 84-87, 94-95, figs. 59-60.
21) Rose, J. N. 1917. "Pachyphytum bracteosum." Addisonia 2: 53, pl. 67.
22) Sánchez Mejorada, H. 1964. "Buscando Crasulaceas." Cact. Suc. Mex. 9: 12-22, figs. 8-13.
23) Sánchez Mejorada, H. 1968. "Las Cactáceas del Estado de Hidalgo." Cact. Suc. Mex. 13: 13-18, fig. 13, maps.
24) Sánchez Mejorada, H. 1978. "Manual de campo de las cactáceas y suculentas de la Barranca de Metztitlán." 1-131, figs. 1-51. Sociedad Mexicana de Cactología, México, D.F.
25) Schumann, K. 1900. "Lebensbeschreibung berühmter Kakteenkenner: Carl August Ehrenberg." Monatsschr. Kakteenk. 10: 138-143.
26) Standley, P. C. 1922. "Trees and shrubs of Mexico", Part 2. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 23: 171-515.
27) Uhl, C. H., and R. Moran. 1973. "The chromosomes of Pachyphytum (Crassulaceae)". Amer. J. Bot. 60: 648-656, figs. 1-31.
28) van Keppel, J. C. 1959. Pachyphvtum Lk., Kl., et Otto. Succulenta 1959: 5-8, 20-21, 25-26, 44-45, 51-52, 102-103, 132, 11 figs.
29) von Poellnitz, K. 1937. "The genus Pachyphytum." Cact. J. (Croydon) 5: 72-75.
30) Walther, E. 1934. "Echeveria hybrids: A, with Pachyphytum." Cact. Succ. J. 6: 53-56, figs. 1-6.
Cultivation and Propagation: Easy to grow Pachyphytum bracteosum does great in succulent pots with other similar plants like Echeverias. It is fairly hardy, and is a common houseplants. Blooms and leaves brush off easily so care in handling is essential.
Soil: It will require a free draining compost.
Moisture: It needs regular water in summer, but reduce watering during winter month, but fairly drought tolerant elsewhere. If you live in a hot, hot area avoid excessive irrigation during the heat of the summer.
Sun exposure: It love full sun or diffuse sun to grow with a compact habit and develop the proper colour. A good light exposure helps to keep the plants compact and encourage leaf colour and flowering. In mild summer areas this plant can be grown in near full sun in summer too, but if summers are hot some shade during the hottest part of the day is recommended.
Hardiness: During winter protect from freezing.
Uses: This plant is an excellent candidate for raised areas in the dry garden, pockets in rock walls or the container collection.
Maintenance: Like Graptopetalum and Echeveria, Pachyphytum is sensitive to being handled, as skin oil can damage leaves, in particular those with a pearlescent colouration or farina. After growing for several years tend to become untidy, and should be cut very short or restarted from cuttings.
Propagation: Cuttings, seeds. New plants can be also propagated from orphaned leaves.
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