Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It was magnificent while it lasted

This past weekend was filled with cactus excitement. Four of my cacti, fairly plain-looking most of the year, flowered. Actually, “flowered” is too lame a word to capture the magnificence of this event. “Exploded” is more like it. It was a floral firework display, and like any firework, it was short-lived. The flowers opened just twice, then it was all over. It must take a tremendous amount of energy to produce flowers almost as large as the stem itself!

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

All four cacti are Echinopsis hybrids. Echinopsis is a large genus of South American cacti noted for their large and colorful flowers. They range from small globular cacti to tree-sized species. There are many Echinopsis hybrids with flowers in myriad shades of red, purple, yellow, and cream. I think not even experts are able to tell them apart unless they are in bloom, maybe not even then. To me, it doesn’t really matter what variety they are. All I care about are the fantastic flowers.

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

The first echinopsis, seen above and in the next six photos, was unlabeled when I won it in a raffle at the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society. The flower was scarlet when it first opened up but by day 2 it had faded to a coral color.

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

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Unidentified Echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

The next photo shows the unidentified scarlet-then-coral echinopsis from above (on the right) and a much smaller echinopsis labeled ‘Johnson Hybrid’ (on the left). ‘Johnson Hybrid’ was a true red on both days.

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LEFT: Echinopsis ‘Johnson Hybrid’
RIGHT: Unidentified echinopsis (scarlet-fading-to-coral flower)

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Echinopsis ‘Johnson Hybrid’

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Echinopsis ‘Johnson Hybrid’

In the next photo you see ‘Johnson Hybrid’ from above (on the left) and Echinopsis huascha var. rubriflora (on the right). Rubriflora opened a salmon color and turned to pale fuschia on day 2.

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LEFT: Echinopsis ‘Johnson Hybrid’
RIGHT:
Echinopsis huascha var. rubriflora

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Echinopsis huascha var. rubriflora

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Echinopsis huascha var. rubriflora

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Echinopsis huascha var. rubriflora

The last one, simply labeled Echinopsis huascha, opened white and stayed white. I’ve had this one for four five years and it’s turned into a cylinder 11 inches tall by 6 inches wide. Interestingly, the flowers were nowhere near as large as on the much smaller cacti above. It could be because this particular specimen only gets a few hours of direct sun. Still, there’s something very alluring about white flowers—plus I don’t have to try to come up with a color adjective that best describes the hue of the flowers (fuscescent or crotal, anyone?).

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Echinopsis huascha (white flowers)

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Echinopsis huascha (white flowers)

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Echinopsis huascha (white flowers)

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Echinopsis huascha (white flowers)

In our climate echinopsis can stay outside all winter. In fact, people plant them out, which results in larger plants with more flowers.

9 comments:

  1. Are you considering planting some of yours out? Beautiful! I never appreciated cactus flowers until I saw my Opuntias flower last year.

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    1. I'm trying to figure out the logistics. I have quite a few cacti that would do better in the ground. But space in the sun is at a premium in our garden. I know that sounds ironic considering we live in a very sunny climate...

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  2. Replies
    1. Gone already.

      It's amazing that evolution turned out that way. The odds of cactus flowers being pollinated in such a short period time don't seem that high to me. However, the time window must be long enough to ensure the perpetuation of the species.

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  3. Amazing pictures. I hope mine bloom as pretty.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure they will. Even occasional neglect hasn't prevented mine from blooming.

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