Archive for August 13th, 2010

Mountain Cactus – Pediocactus simpsonii

Mountain Cactus

This type of cactus is known as ball cactus (although some authorities call it a hedgehog cactus) that is originally from the desert southwest of North America. It grows on dry mountain valleys, rocky ridges. This cactus is listed on the Federal Endangered Species list.

Pediocactus simpsonii was first named by George Engelmann for army engineer James H. Simpson under the name Echinocactus simpsonii. Simpson led an expedition in Colorado, and Engelmann named the species “in honor of the gallant commander” of the expedition

These flowers are born in the center of the cactus and are usually a brilliant pink, but can sometimes be whitish in color.

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Beavertail Cactus – Opuntia basilaris

Beavertail Cactus

This cactus is a type of Prickly Pear, which is Endangered in the USA, and it will often start blooming when it has only two pads. In the wild, its principal range is limited to the Mojave-Colorado desert. Like most cacti of the genus Opuntia, they have sharp spines as well as tiny barbed bristles called glochids that can be difficult to remove from the skin.

Being a prickly pear type, it can be used just as other prickly pears are…. such as the plains prickly pear cactus.

Christmas Cactus: Schlumbergera bridgesii

Christmas Cactus Flower

These cacti are originally forest cacti from the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The plant is made up of 1-inch long, dark green elliptical leaves that look linked together. They are very easy to propagate by taking a single leaf section and planting it 1/4 of its length in soil.

Christmas cactus has been kept as a holiday houseplant since the 1800’s. Early breeders crossed Schlumbergera truncata with Schlumbergera russelliana creating the beginnings of the hybrid plants you see today.

These plants are non-toxic to children and pets. They make a great choice for hanging baskets!