Echinopsis 'First Light' shining bright

One of the plants I brought home from my recent Arizona trip was an Echinopsis hybrid called 'First Light'. I'd seen photos of its spectacular flowers a while ago and had added it to my shopping list. My go-to source, Jeff Moore of Arid Adaptations, only had his propagation stock left—he'd sold dozens in the busy spring season. Fortunately, Bach's Cactus Nursery still had a handful of 5-gallon plants, and I grabbed one with three buds. 

I took this photo on June 1, 2021:

Echinopsis 'First Light'

The following morning, June 2, 2021, the buds opened up:


I won't even try to describe the flowers other than to say they're everything I had hoped for.






Many cactus flowers are notoriously short-lived, but 'First Light' takes the cake. Twelve hours after they opened, they once again looked like the first photo—closed buds. And now, a few days later, this is what's left:


Talk about ephemeral beauty!

Fortunately, this hybrid, like many other Echinopsis hybrids, blooms multiple times a year. Assuming that this was the second or third wave, I'm hoping for one more flush.

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Note about Echinopsis for those of you further down the taxonomical rabbit hole:

Efforts began as early as the 1970s to subsume a number of related but separate genera into Echinopsis, in essence making it a supergenus (or, as critics might say, a dumping ground). The best-known genus affected by this was Trichocereus, which was reclassified in 1974, but others have also been assimilated (Chamaecereus, Chamaelobivia, Lobivia, Soehrensia, just to name a few). Some taxonomists think Rebutia should be subsumed as well. If you take even a superficial look at these genera, you realize that Echinopsis as it is now includes everything from tiny cactus just a few inches tall (Lobivia) to columnar cacti up to 20 feet in height (Trichocereus). In spite of any floral similarities which form the basis for this reclassification, this seems like a stretch—literally.

Efforts are underway to reexamine the relationships between the many taxa now part of Echinopsis. Much will rest on DNA analysis to clarify how these plants are related and whether it makes sense to reestablish at least some of the former genera. For more information, see Robert Schick, “Echinopsis sensu stricto and Trichocereus: Differentiating the Genera,” Cactus and Succulent Journal, 83(6), 248-255, (1 November 2011).

Many growers, hybridizers, and nurseries never accepted the assimilation of Trichocereus. In simplified terms, if it's tall and has relatively few stems, it's a Trichocereus, and if it's squat and has many stems, it's an Echinopsis. As a result, hybrids are often listed as Trichocereus if at least one parent is a Trichocereus. For hybrids between Trichocereus and Echinopsis, either name is used, although this usage is not consistent.

Note about Echinopsis 'First Light' hybrid:

Echinopsis 'First Light' is a hybrid created by Tucson plant breeder Mark Dimmitt between two other hybrids: 'Diehl'sche Hybride' (Echinopsis candicans × Echinopsis eyriesii var. grandiflora) and 'Newlands Orange' (Echinopsis huascha 'Gold' × Echinopsis huascha 'Red'). Based on the breeder code, HBG-ISI 93-5, it was registered in 1993. It's definitely withstood the test of time, as demonstrated by its ongoing popularity.


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Comments

  1. Totally gorgeous. Is it going in the ground? You also got a "Flying Saucer" if I remember correctly. Any buds on it?

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    1. Yes, it will go in the front next to the sidewalk after I get my Agave salmiana 'Mediopicta' in the ground.

      'Flying Saucer' will go in the same area; no new buds on that one, just some seeds setting, which I'm going to collect for a friend.

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    2. Amazing to me that they can maintain that plasma reaction in the center of each flower even for 12 hours!

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  2. How I love both 'Flying Saucer' (my first Echinopsis/Trichocereus) and 'First Light', as well as so many others I have. Luckily they have bloomed great this spring and no big buds now because we are expecting over 110º for a week starting Sunday! The buds just can not take that heat and often abort! The trials of living in Phoenix! Thank you for the explanation about Echinopsis vs. other similar plants. I want them separated again! Can not stand how they are all Echinopsis now!

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    1. You've had some pretty impressive temperatures already! We're supposed to join you in the 110"F club later this week...

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  3. I have one lone Echinopsis, but an un-named variety so I guess I will be surprised when it blooms. It's still a young 'un at this point. I'm certain I'll be out of town the first time it blooms !

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    1. I don't think I've ever seen an Echinopsis that didn't have attractive flowers. I like the white ones, too. Not so plain in my view!

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  4. What a beautiful but ephemeral flower. You will have to stage a viewing event like they do for the night blooming cerus. Hate to miss the event.

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  5. Great blooms! I used to have quite a few of these but gave them away cause they’re really nothing special to look at the rest of the time, especially in a pot. Needed space for more architecturally interesting species

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    1. Yep, I know exactly what you mean. That's why I'm thinking of ways to NOT make them a focal point in the landscape while still allowing them to shine when they're in flower.

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