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Rare Cactus Plants History of discovery species of genus Astrophytum
Astrophytum is a genus of six species of cacti. These species are sometimes referred to as living rocks, though the term is also used for other genera, particularly Lithops (Aizoaceae). The generic name is derived from the Greek words άστρον (astron), meaning "star," and φυτόν (phyton), meaning "plant."
History of discovery specirs of genus Astrophytum
Astrophytum asterias (Zuccarini) Lemaire
The asterias is the smallest species of Astrophytum.
It is also the most advanced stage of its evolution: very slow growth, fast flowering, loss of spines, perfect mimicry in its environment and a long migration to the glacial period of the state of Hidalgo to southern Texas. habitat in the asterias has the particularity to withdraw almost completely from the surface they rest during the dry season, which makes it difficult to observe and protection from predators. But this spineless cactus pretty quickly made the coveted collectors unscrupulous. It has become rare and has joined the list of protected species (listed in Schedule I of CITES). history of its discovery and its introduction in collections in Europe is amazing and has only increased in popularity of this species. In its habitat, the asterias has the characteristic to withdraw almost completely from the surface of the ground during its rest in dry period, which makes it difficult to observe it and protects it from the predators.But this cute little thornless cactus quickly became the object of the lusts of unscrupulous collectors. It has become rare and has joined the list of protected plants (listed in List I of the Cites). The history of its discovery and its introduction into collections in Europe is astonishing and has only increased the popularity of this species.
It is in a German expedition that discovered this species Karwinsky Baron in 1842 in the area of Tierra Caliente in the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico. An anecdote tells that this discovery is due to a gust of wind would have made fly his sombrero on asterias just emerging from the soil surface. Plants are collected and sent to Munich where Zuccarini actually first described in 1845 as Echinocactus asterias name. Then Charles Lemaire in 1868 relates to the kind Astrophytum.
Astrophytum asterias The first arrived in Europe in 1843 and already reported the first blooms at the botanical garden in Munich in 1844. A. asterias But the species is a bit tricky in culture and eventually disappear from European collections in 1850. Yet despite numerous expeditions botanists, this little cactus is found in its habitat Tierra Caliente. It had to wait 70 years to rediscover this species in Mexico! Octavio Solis is in 1919 but who finds asterias in new habitats Barretillas (Nuevo Leon) and Ciudad Guerrero (Tamaulipas). In 1923, Fric finally found the asterias Tierra Calienta, it takes 2000 copies () but three-quarters will freeze during the trip to Central Europe ... Mexicans react to protect this species. A law of 1931 prohibits all samples for the export of endangered plants. A small population has also been discovered in 1933 in the United States in southern Texas but intensive agriculture and levies have virtually eliminated. This population had almost disappeared in 1935. Then, near Roma in Starr County, Texas of asterias are discovered in 1967. A subspecies texensis is created but does not seem validated by all botanists. In the 80s, several cultivars (including the famous Super Kabuto) appear in Japanese collections. Their habitat: The pressures of agriculture and excessive harvesting protection measures have greatly reduced late range of asterias. Currently, it is present only in two places, one in the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico and other Starr County, Texas, United States. Making it the only species of Astrophytum present outside Mexico. It would have completely disappeared from the other localities where it was found particularly in northern Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. - Tamaulipas south of Ciudad Victoria, is found near the town of Gonzales in a station alluvial hot enough where the average rainfall are close to 500 mm / year and an altitude less than 200 m. The vegetation consists of thorny shrubs. - Texas near the Rio Grande in Starr County. In this station, asterias are as in Mexico in a warm temperate climate (530 mm / year) at a low altitude. Vegetation is sparse and asterias grows in the shade of thorn (acacias. ..) or in cracks of rocks on limestone soil ph sometimes rather high. Asterias population in Texas is approximately 2000 plants and its precise location is rarely communicated to preserve this species. In its habitat, it is very difficult to observe because it is just emerging soil being sometimes slightly covered with sand. During the dry season, it shrinks a little more in the ground. Description: The asterias is dark green with a flat disk shape up to 15 cm in diameter and 5 cm high. But in culture, it takes a more rounded form to see slightly columnar. The old grafted plants assume a distinctly columnar form far removed from its natural appearance. Unlike the other species of Astrophytum, its root system is rather pivoting. - No thorn on this little cactus. Only a few rudimentary spines appear on young seedlings. - The number of ribs varies little, normally 8, rarely less and almost never more. There is no variation with the age of the plant as is often the case with other species of Astrophytum. The odds are not angular (it is a sign to know if it is a hybrid), the shallow furrows, the surface of the plant remains flat. - The areoles form like small white-cream buttons aligned at the center of the ribs and spaced every 0.5 to 1 cm. Slightly woolly and variable in size in cultivars. - The flowers are 5 to 7 cm in diameter, yellow in color with an orange-red throat. Some rare cases of entirely pink or entirely yellow flowers also exist. They appear at the apex at the base of each new areola. They open during the hottest hours of the afternoon. By strong heat they last only one day, at best they will open again the next day. The asterias becomes flowering when it reaches a size of 3-4 cm in diameter (around 3 years) and flowering occurs from April to October. - The fruit ripens (3 weeks) a reddish brown color and opens at the base as capricorn and coahuilense releasing a hundred seeds. The seeds are quite large (about 2 mm), not round but a little bumpy. They are dark red to black in color. In its habitat, dispersal takes place through ants and rodents. The germination is rapid and the rate quite high under good growing conditions. - Seedlings take on a spherical appearance with a very reduced hypocotyl. Some rudimentary thorns may appear in the first few months. - Asterias with entirely yellow flowers are extremely rare, yet an incredible coincidence has made that among the first plants sent by Baron Karwinsky to Zuccarini, one would have had this character so special and would have served to the original description. Was it a coincidence that there was a yellow-flowered population that has now disappeared?Asterias with entirely yellow flowers have never been found in the wild and those with entirely pink flowers remain very rare.
- The similarities of evolution of the asterias with its "African cousin", the Euphorbia obesa, are amazing.Thousands of kilometers away and separated by an ocean, these 2 plants have evolved towards a similar appearance.
- Although the Indians call the asterias "Peyote", there is no hallucinogenic substances in this plant, it is only because of it appearance close to that of Lophophora.
Astrophytum capricorne (Dietrich) B & R
The Capricorn is a species of Astrophytum belonging to the same group (Septemtriastrophytum) qu'asterias coahuilense and whose common characteristics are:
- origin of northern Mexico
- Red-throated yellow flowers (except a few varieties)
- Opening of fruit at the base
- with a seedling hypocotyl round and greenish. Peculiarities of this species are: - curved spines (reminiscent of the horns of an ibex (Capra ibex) are at the origin of its name) - habitat most northern and located in desert areas. This species has a large variability of shapes (spines, flakes, growth) that he developed to perfect his mimicry in a variety of habitats. These are all varieties and forms which have been described in its discovery by botanists.
Outside the recently caput-medusae is the Astrophytum species that was discovered in the last.
H. Poselger, traveling in northern Mexico, discovered in 1851 at the La Rinconada capricorn between Monterrey and Saltillo in the state of Nuevo Leon (Mexico). Copies are quickly sent to Germany and the description is made in 1851 by A. Dietrich under the name Echinocactus capricornis.
During the same year, there are already reports the 1st blooms of this new species in German collections.
It was not until 1922 that Britton and Rose rename this species under its current name.
In 1925 a scientific error of Capricorn is the type species of a new genus (Maierocactus).
During the years 1910-1920, many varieties and forms of Capricorn are discovered and described.
Habitat: The Capricorn covers a wide range in the north-east Mexico (mostly in the state of Coahuila) which can be outlined by a triangle formed by the cities of Monterrey, Monclova and Torreon.
It grows in desert areas where rainfall is much lower than in the habitat of other species of Astrophytum. Neighboring rainfall of 250-350 mm / year (considering it is a desert when cumulative rainfall is below 200 mm / year) and even only 180 mm / year in the area of Cuatro Cinegas.
It grows mainly on limestone stations, among rocks and thorny bushes. He appreciates including the protection of Agaves lechuguilla to develop the 1st year.
Astrophytum caput-medusae (Velazco-Nevarez) D. Hunt
Capricorn is a species of Astrophytum belonging to the same group (Septemtriastrophytum) as the lasias and coahuilense, whose common characteristics are:
Due to its appearance recalling the fingers of one hand, the two botanists Carlos Velazco and Manuel Nevarez call their discovery Digitostigma caput-medusae. Oct. 2002, the first description is published in the Mexican magazine "cactaceae mexicanas suculentas there." This first publication is amply illustrated and reveals to the world the new cactus. A legend is born! In 2003, David Hunt recombines this new taxon as a new species of the genus Astrophytum, because of its flower, the fruit, the seeds and flaking so characteristic of Astrophytum. To preserve this new species, a Mexican Institute is responsible for its rapid multiplication to export plants from culture to producers in the world and avoid trade uprooted plants in their habitat. In 2004, 200 seeds are sold (21 U.S. dollars seed! ) to large producers or collectors happy in the U.S. and Europe, but with a guarantee on the lift. September 2005, the first caput-medusae may be for sale free auction in Germany (G. Koehres?) on the web (Ebay ). It is a small transplant a seedling of 1 year already well developed (3.5 cm high and 2.5 cm wide). Prices rose to 432 euros! Rumors announce that some caput-medusae were sold in Japan 140 euros each in early 2005. Asexual seems easy and fairly rapid growth should fall rapidly the price of these rarities. autumn 2005, the marketing of seeds and young plants from the program multiplication is official. The main objective remains the protection of habitat caput-medusae. November 2005 In this program some Mexican plants are shipped to the USA and Europe. 5 caput-medusae and are auctioned on Ebay USA and 5 others in Germany . These are plants on the roots (2 years, maybe 3?). According plants, prices reached 150 to 200 euros ... is already huge, but significantly less than the first caput-medusae (graft) sold over 2 months instead of 400 euros.
in June 2006, the Italian producer spring two new hybrids "unpublished" x asterias caput-medusae whose bids are mounted at 78 euros on Ebay , and caput-medusae coahuilense x 91 euros on Ebay . The results of all these hybrids are quite strange and we are able to ask whether the crossings are well ... Besides other hybrids offered in the summer are far less success. Aug. 2006, Panarotto, producer of succulents in Italy is the first to propose in its catalog mail order small caput-medusae grafted ... at a price of 60 euros! recall, last November was the first producer Koehres duct to offer this species in its catalog at a price of 20 euros seed.
It reaches a maximum size of 20 cm high.
The root is pivotable with a spindle shape.
The epidermis is a green-glaucous color covered with a very dense flocculation giving a white-greyish color to the plant.
Caput-medusae has a very short stem without ribs from which protrusions (tubercles) resemble the fingers of a hand. These tubercles, up to 20 cm long and 5 cm wide, have a triangular shape on young plants and then cylindrical on older plants. They have at their extremity a wooly areola from which leave a maximum of 4 small spines 1-3 mm long, rigid barely curved.
The flowers are very similar to those of Astrophytum. About 5 cm in diameter, yellow with orange-red throat.They appear on the tubers under development and not at the apex of the plant.
Small ovoid fruits 2 cm long opening on the side to release seeds large enough (2-3 mm) in black color.
Green seedlings, similar to myriostigma, develop fairly rapidly.
Astrophytum coahuilense (Möller) Kayser
It was in 1911 that Rodolf Meyer mentions in a German magazine the discovery of Astrophytum with Red-throated flowers.
Henrich Möller But it is in 1927 that made the first description of "white bishop's cap" means that as a northern subspecies of A. myriostigma, "the bishop's hat green" known in San Luis Potosi.
In 1932, K. Kayser describes in full species: Astrophytum coahuilense
Its place among the Astrophytum:
But A. coahuilense still poses today a classification problem, some botanists still consider that it is a variety or subspecies of "myriostigma green."
It is quite possible that either coahuilense hybrid of ancestors and ancestors myriostigmas beetles in ancient times where their ranges were closer to those of today.
then during the evolution of the species, despite its appearance near myriostigma, coahuilense kept more affinity with Capricorn:
- a range in northern Mexico near the area of Capricorn and away from that of myriostigma (350km zone between the northern most myriostigma to Jaumave area and the most southern coahuilense of Zacatecas).
- its yellow flower red throat
- the fruit turns red when ripe
- the opening at the base of the fruit
- green seedling cotyledons much reduced with a large root axial
All these characters closer to the A . Capricorn.
Moreover, hybridization with myriostigma is not possible (there is a sterility) while it is possible Capricorn (except senile variety, partial sterility) and asterias.
In the south of its range, it is close to v Capricorn. senile, yet without hybridization. There is a partial sterility with senile mother used as the seedlings are not viable because without chlorophyll. Coahuilense when used as mother in the hybridization, the results are somewhat encouraging, but very random.
The range of coahuilense is also quite small. It is found in northern Mexico in the state of Coahuila (Durango and Zacatecas), as its name suggests! It grows in a region where rainfall is the lowest in the north of Mexico, 180-200 mm / year. Rainfall much lower than that received by his cousin myriostigma in southern San Luis Potosi, about 500 mm / year. This is probably for these reasons that culture coahuilense is a little trickier, watering should be moderate to avoid the risk of rot. Description: Globular cactus devoid of sting with 5 well-marked and angular ribs.
These 5 coasts appear at the stage of sowing, it is a very stable character. It is only on old individuals that additional ribs can sometimes appear.
The epidermis is covered with a very dense flaking (white dots) giving a fluffy and dirty appearance to the plant, which allows a perfect mimicry with its environment where it is confused amongst limestone (white-gray) between which they grow.
This cactus becomes more cylindrical then columnar as it ages (adaptation like for myriostigma to an environment where the vegetation is dense) up to a height of 50cm. It has been reported that individuals reaching in their habitat a maximum height of 65cm for a diameter of 20-30cm.
Coahuilense can be flowering around 3-4 years. The flowers are born, like all the Astrophytum, at the apex at the base of each new areola. The size of the flower (maximum diameter 9 cm) is intermediate between those of myriostigma and capricorn. The flowers open during the hottest hours of the afternoon. By strong heat they last only one day, at best they will open again the next day. Of yellow color with a red throat (bottom of the flower), it is a characteristic of the species approaching the capricorn. But there are rare cases of entirely yellow flowers. These individuals are selected in culture to try to preserve this unusual character.
Like capricorn, it is the base of its fruit (gray-green-red) that opens on about 200 seeds.
In summary, coahuilense has the vegetative aspect of a myriostigma and the reproductive traits of a capricorn.
Astrophytum myriostigma Lemaire
Astrophytum myriostigma Lemaire
- To the south, the group "Potosinas" (Villar, Cerritos in the state of San Luis Potosi).
myriostigmas These flowers are larger (6-7 cm diameter).
They are also those who stay the longest globular and stocky. They move very little and late to a columnar shape. Are those discovered by Galeotti and described by Lemaire
A Cerritos, the average annual temperature is 25 ° C and annual rainfall of 500 mm concentrated mainly from May to September.
- To the north, the group "Jaumaves" (Jaumave, San Antonio in the state of Tamaulipas).
Northern In this area, there are those west of Jaumave (upper valley) with a dense flaking and those growing in the Plain St Antonio to see very little flaking almost naked (this is an adaptation to its environment better mimicry).
In this high valley Jaumave there are also myriostigmas tend to maintain their appearance "quadricostatum" appeared in juvenile . Indeed, myriostigmas normally tend àproduire coasts additional aging. This form is more durable 4 ribs in this source. Older individuals are reluctant to produce new shores that eventually abort and give an aspect of "beaks."
This population also has the distinction of producing small flowers (3-6 cm in diameter instead of 6-7 cm for the group of "Potosinas") of pale yellow and a smaller number of seeds. Produce seedlings for their spines stronger than in Potosinas and slow to disappear (inherited from ancestors).
Jaumave A, the average annual temperature is 21 ° C and annual rainfall of 470 mm concentrated mainly from May to September .
- Between the two, the group of "columnar" (Tula in the state of Tamaulipas).
these myriostigmas take a columnar shape very quickly. Seedlings already have a club-shaped.
they also have a unique number of ribs high (6 or more) at a young age, especially in the region of Tula sector. The medium sized flowers emit a delicate fragrance and light.
It is in a German expedition that discovered this species Karwinsky Baron in 1842 in the area of Tierra Caliente in the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico. An anecdote tells that this discovery is due to a gust of wind would have made fly his sombrero on asterias just emerging from the soil surface.
plants are collected and sent to Munich where Zuccarini actually first described in 1845 as Echinocactus asterias name. Then Charles Lemaire in 1868 relates to the kind Astrophytum.
A. asterias The first arrived in Europe in 1843 and already reported the first blooms at the botanical garden in Munich in 1844.
A. asterias But the species is a bit tricky in culture and eventually disappear from European collections in 1850.
Yet despite numerous expeditions botanists, this little cactus is found in its habitat Tierra Caliente.
had to wait 70 years to rediscover this species in Mexico! Octavio Solis is in 1919 but who finds asterias in new habitats Barretillas (Nuevo Leon) and Ciudad Guerrero (Tamaulipas).
In 1923, Fric finally found the asterias Tierra Calienta, it takes 2000 copies () but three-quarters will freeze during the trip to Central Europe ...
Mexicans react to protect this species. A law of 1931 prohibits all samples for the export of endangered plants.
A small population has also been discovered in 1933 in the United States in southern Texas but intensive agriculture and levies have virtually eliminated. This population had almost disappeared in 1935. Then, near Roma in Starr County, Texas of asterias are discovered in 1967. A subspecies texensis is created but does not seem validated by all botanists.
In the 80s, several cultivars (including the famous Super Kabuto) appear in Japanese collections. Their habitat: The pressures of agriculture and excessive harvesting protection measures have greatly reduced late range of asterias. Currently, it is present only in two places, one in the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico and other Starr County, Texas, United States. Making it the only species of Astrophytum present outside Mexico. It would have completely disappeared from the other localities where it was found particularly in northern Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. - Tamaulipas south of Ciudad Victoria, is found near the town of Gonzales in a station alluvial hot enough where the average rainfall are close to 500 mm / year and an altitude less than 200 m. The vegetation consists of thorny shrubs. - Texas near the Rio Grande in Starr County. In this station, asterias are as in Mexico in a warm temperate climate (530 mm / year) at a low altitude. Vegetation is sparse and asterias grows in the shade of thorn (acacias. ..) or in cracks of rocks on limestone soil ph sometimes rather high. Asterias population in Texas is approximately 2000 plants and its precise location is rarely communicated to preserve this species. In its habitat, it is very difficult to observe because it is just emerging soil being sometimes slightly covered with sand. During the dry season, it shrinks a little more in the ground.
Astrophytum ornatum (DC) Web. ex B & R
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This is the first species of Astrophytum which was discovered. It all started in 1827, when Thomas Coulter discovers an unknown plant in the state of Hidalgo in Mexico. He immediately sent 40 copies to Paris. In 1828, this plant is described by De Candolle as Echinocactus ornatus is the Astrophytum ornatum known today. Gender Astrophytum created by Charles Lemaire in 1839 following the discovery of A. myriostigma.
Echinocactus But our ornatus, having changed names several times (E. holopterus, crooked, ghisbrechtii ...) not join the kind Astrophytum under its current name until the late 19th century, in 1896 under the initiative Weber. Indeed, its silhouette different from other "cactus-star" has long been away from Astrophytum but Weber believes that the presence of flaking on the skin is also a major character in this genus.
then in 1937 their Cactus Family, Brighton & Rose confirm and validate the name Astrophytum ornatum. ornatum Astrophytum species is located furthest to the south, a hundred miles north of Mexico in the states of Hidalgo and Queretaro. It also overflows slightly to the south of the state of San Luis Potosi and Guanajuato is. Actually, its range extended along the watershed of the Rio Moctezuma and its tributaries. Seed dispersal by ants being carried attracted nutrients. It colonizes the steep slopes of the valleys and sunny but is absent plains where the soil is deep and fertile yet. Annual rainfall is around 500 mm but mainly concentrated from June to September.
According to the canyons, there are populations that have evolved over time to different forms more or less columnar, flaking more or less developed, twisted shapes, spines more or less yellow and of varying lengths. Ornatum species remains fairly massive columnar taking a look older and whose adult size is often greater than 1m (up to 1.8 m). Flaking tends to be less developed when the old cactus plants sometimes give up almost naked (this change is not reflected ornatum our culture). localizations have been quite difficult to access protected species. However, the construction of a hydro-electric dam in the 90s has greatly reduced the population present on the slopes of Rio Moctezuma (and beautiful Echinocactus grusonii).
In the area of Torre de Rio Blanca (at the boundary between the state of Queretaro and Guanajuato), there is a population of ornatum with a twisted shape, with spiral ribs. This form is not due to a lack of water as originally thought due to the very low rainfall in the area. This is a character that appears genetically stable. This population has been known since the mid 19th century and was known as Echinocactus crooked. It does not seem a variety is valid for this unusual, yet sometimes found among some producers ornatum v. espiralis with this strange twisted shape. Exists another population near the Rio and Rio Amajaque Tula, with a more stocky with beautiful yellow spines, is the variety mirbelii. It seems that this is the only variety that is valid for the species ornatum.
A. ornatum variety mirbelii
This is the only variety of ornatum usually used by botanists.
This beautiful variety from a population ornatum located in the state of Queretaro in boundary with the state of Hidalgo, in the town of Vista Hermosa in north of the city of Tequisquiapan.
mirbelii The variety has the distinction of having spines pale yellow, young plants are generally well covered with white flakes. Lines of white flakes disappear very late on older plants (in the home). It also has a more compact form evolving towards less conventional columnar shape. Its size does not exceed 80 cm high with a diameter of 30-35 cm.
Mirbelii has been known for a long time, the Indians called him already Tiosnoschcomitl. Charles Lemaire was the first to describe it in 1838, but under the name Echinocactus mirbelii in honor of Professor Mirbel, Director at the time of botanical gardens in Paris. He was then attached to Echinofossulocactus before taking its present name in 1933 by Okumura.
This variety has also been described under the names of ornatum flavispinum, or aureispinum aureispina, they are in fact all synonyms.
- A. ornatum variety glabrescens
This variety is not valid because there is no habitat in the population having the character "bare skin"
Indeed, as indicated in the description of the type species, the ornatum adults tend to lose their flaking in aging and sometimes become naked. But this character is specific to plants in the habitat, they often remain in culture their white flakes.
Glabrescens ornatum found in cultivation under the name glabrescens have the particularity to stay "nudum" throughout the life of the plant . All other characters are the same as the type species.
This is Weber who made the first description in 1896 (Astrophytum glabrescens), then the status of variety or subspecies appeared but is not currently recognized. It was also described as a synonym of. v ornatum. virens.