Notes on the 1998 Seed Distribution

by Dr Bill Maddams

Seed kindly supplied by Michel Lacoste bears his initials together with the appropriate field number. He has also supplied the seed, from plants in his collection, identified by TL numbers, which relate to Thomas Linzen and Wolf 68, originating from F. Wolf. A number without initials is from the Mesa Garden catalogue, as is SB, a Steven Brack collection. CH and CSD are from Jaromir Chavasteketal and collaborators and D.J.F. denotes David Ferguson. K is Köhres material and L denotes an Alfred Lau collection. D.J.W. is seed from the collection of Society members D.J. Waldie and items denoted by JLH come from John Henshaw. We have relatively small amounts of seed from plants in the collection of Sydney Woolcock, raised from seed directly from Werner Reppenhagen. This seed will be on sale at the Study Meeting/A.G.Mammillaria  on 2nd May.

It is not easy to obtain seed of many of the Coryphantha species in quantities sufficient for our distribution. However, we are again able to offer some that should enhance member's collections. Coryphantha cornifera is a smallish, normally solitary species with about ten fairly stout pale yellow spines and often no centrals, although one may be present. The excellent illustration in the February 1997 issue as part of Sydney Woolcock's "Coryphantha Species, Part 9" renders further descriptive comments unnecessary. This article also has an excellent illustration of Coryphantha delaetiana L1230, and the contrast between the radial and centrals spines stands out clearly. Mr. Woolcock tells me that he now believes that L1230 is close to Coryphantha gladiispina than to Coryphantha delaetiana, a view shared by Dr. Dicht.

Coryphantha pallida is particularly attractive because, as it matures, it produces substantial amounts of white wool near to the growing point and flowering area. It has about twenty white, adpressed radial spines and up to three darker, stronger centrals plus, of course, large and attractive yellow flowers. CH154 comes from Tehuacan in the southern Mexican state of Puebla. Coryphantha palmeri hails from much further north, from the states of San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon , Coahuila and Tamaulipas, the last of these the home of L1342, at San Vincente. It is a somewhat variable species, particularly with regard to the rather stout recurved or hooked central spine, which may be absent.

L1342 is a form which tends to make small clusters of heads. C.recurvata is still more northerly, from across the border into Arizona, with its southern limit in northern Sonora. It is an exceedingly attractive plant, relatively slow growing, but ultimately making a cluster of heads. It has about two dozen pectinate, yellow radial spines, and one or two stronger and somewhat darker centrals. Its attractiveness in all seasons compensates for the fact that, unlike most Coryphantha species, it is far from floriferous.

Cumarinia odorata was described as Coryphantha odorata by Bödeker in 1930, transferred into the genus Neobessaya by Werdermann and thence to the new genus Cumarinia by Knuth which, in turn, was reduced to a sub-genus of Neolloydia by Backeberg in 1942. The name Cumarinia has persisted, probably because it is far from being a typical Neolloydia species. It is a small plant which clusters at an early age, and it produces rather small pinkish-yellow flowers in appreciable numbers at an early age. Additionally it does not fit into the Neolloydia mould on account of its hooked central spines. It deserves to be more widely grown.

Most Escobaria species are, deservedly, popular and tolerably well known. That said, E.chaffeyi is somewhat understated. It is globular in its youth although it tends towards cylindrical with age. The short tubercles are concealed by the numerous white radial spines, which are more evident than the one or more short centrals. The flower colour is rather variable, ranging from deepish pink to brownish purple. SB839 comes from the Saltillo area of southern Coahuila. E.henricksonii is a comparative newcomer, having been described by Glass and Foster in 1977, and is quite distinctive. It has a large tuberous root from which several cylindrical stems emerge as the plant grows. These are tightly covered by some thirty interlacing white or pale yellow radial spines, which are far more obvious than the short centrals. The attractive flowers are cerise to pinkish lavender in colour. The seed on offer came from a plant of I.S.I.1165, originally from a site near Escalon, Chihuahua, and distributed by the International Succulent Institute in 1980.

E.hesteri featured on our list a year ago. The present seed comes from a different form with larger bodies and is worthy of members' attentions. E.vivipara v. bisbeeana is better known as E.aggregata, a name eschewed by taxonomists because of its rather dubious antecedents. Bisbee is a town in south east Arizona, an area where it tends to occur most abundantly. Its numerous interlacing white brown tipped radial spines give the plant a very pleasing appearance, enhanced by the pinkish to purple flowers that appear in early summer if the plant is grown in a bright position.

Gymnocactus knuthianus was named for Count Knuth, mentioned earlier in connection with the genus Cumarinia. It has virtues which make it a "must" for every collection. It has a spherical or very short cylindrical body which usually remains solitary and is unlikely to exceed about four inches in diameter at maturity. The body is partially obscured by white, interlacing radial spines which are curly in the case of 448.2. It flowers freely from an early age and the buds are visible as red dots in the crown soon after Christmas. The flowers, which appear in March, are deep pink but plants with white flowers are also in circulation. Thelocactus macdowellii was for many years, quite inexplicably, regarded as an Echinomastus species. In all respects it is typical of the genus Thelocactus and, in particular, is an ally of T.conothelos. It is charismatic in appearance because of its white spines, both radial and central, the latter being longer and stronger and often palish yellow towards the tips. If grown in a good light it produces large purplish flowers in the early summer, which stand out against the white spines. CSD192 comes from Arteaga in the state of Coahuila.

The Mammillaria species listed are dealt with in alphabetical order, rather than in taxonomic groupings, as this will be more convenient for most members. Herr Reppenhagen regards Mammillaria albiarmata as no more than a synonym of Mammillaria coahuilensis whereas Dr. Hunt concedes that it may be a form of it with more numerous radial spines. Whatever view one adopts it is worth a place in every Mammillaria collection. It is small growing, with a heavy tap root that may exceed the size of the plant above soil level, with about a dozen radiating white radial spines and, usually, one darker central. It has the great merit of flowering very early in the season, February/March, and so is a harbinger of Spring.

We have offered Mammillaria albicans on a previous occasion but it is sought after, not least for its large, charismatic flowers, white with broad pink stripes, which John Pilbeam has described as "breathtaking.....a wonderful sight". It is a member of the Series Ancistracanthae which, as the name implies, have pronounced hooked central spines. Mammillaria albicans, as normally encountered, has straight centrals but quite some years ago Dr. Lau found a form, which bears his field number L1374, with striking black hooked centrals. This has never been common in cultivation; hence, we are very pleased to be able to offer seed.

Mammillaria apozolensis v.saltensis, perhaps better known as Lau1045, is a striking plant, one of the best post-Craig taxa, whatever the eventual taxonomic judgement may prove to be. It is very robust. It usually remains solitary until six or seven inches in diameter and then offsets rather randomly. In addition to the fairly obvious stiff pale yellow radial spines it has two to four long and stout centrals, golden to orange-yellow, standing out like beacons. There is a good deal of white wool near the crown and this provides the ideal background for the carmine flowers which appear in April and May.

Those members who have seen my mature specimen of Mammillaria auriareolis sited next to my comparatively large specimen of Mammillaria parkinsonii can see that the former has affinities to the latter but, also, that there are quite recognisable differences. The two taxa divide dichotomously as they mature, and the stems become somewhat elongated. The flowers, salmon pink with the former and yellowish brown with the latter, are essentially similar, as are the rather numerous white radial spines. The obvious differences are two. The central spines of Mammillaria auriareolis are much shorter and pale brown and, as the specific epithet implies, it has golden areoles. This striking colour shows best on areoles after about three years, when much of the wool in the new growth has disappeared.

Mammillaria aurihamata is one of several species in the Series Stylothelae currently the subject of debate. This is no reason for not having it in one's collection. It has the attractive bright yellow hooked central spines implied by the name, it produces pale yellow flowers copiously in the spring and early summer, and grows vigorously. ML419 comes from along the cañon to Estacion Catorce from Real de Catorce, at altitudes in the range 2,000-2,750m.

The straight spine Mammillaria species from Baja California, of which Mammillaria baxteriana is a typical example, are unjustly neglected in favour of the Ancistracanthae from that area. Mammillaria baxteriana has a flattened globular body, usually solitary, about ten whitish radial spines, and one longer somewhat darker central spine. The flowers, which appear in several rings in the late spring, have an attractive greenish yellow hue. An additional virtue is that it is unlikely to outgrow a five inch pot. Mammillaria craigii has been known since 1942 but it is not particularly common in cultivation, and has been confused with Mammillaria kewensis v.craigiana by some nurserymen. It comes from the Copper Canyon area of south west Chihuahua, and area not greatly visited by collectors in the past. It has a solitary globular body, up to six or seven inches in diameter, with ample white wool in the axils. There are about ten whitish radial spines and one or two long strong centrals whose colour lies in the range yellowish brown to near black. The carmine flowers are very attractive and add to the appeal of a plant that should be more widely grown.

What is Mammillaria crinita? W.A. & Betty Fitz Maurice, in their article in the September/October 1997 issue of the U.S. Cactus and Succulent Journal, show illustrations of five plants, having quite detectable differences, bearing this epithet and none matches with the illustration on page 240 of Herr Reppenhagen's two volume monograph. Are any of them, all from the state of Hidalgo, a match for what Dr. Hunt has termed the form of Mammillaria wildii from the great barranca east of Venados, Hidalgo? Most of us will be content to watch the debate from the touchline and continue to grow plants bearing this epithet, because they are attractive and floriferous. The Mesa Garden material, which has very small heads and pubescent spines, and hails from Zaragosa de Solis, San Luis Potosi, certainly comes into this category.

Mammillaria dixanthocentron has proved to be a great deal more variable in its spination than was evident at the time of its description in 1963. It would not be too difficult to put together a collection showing appreciable variation in spine length and colour from very pale yellow to orange brown. The material on offer is described as having dazzling yellow curly central spines and could well be the best of the bunch. I am much attracted to Mammillaria erythrocalix, a relative of the better known Mammillaria duoformis. My multiheaded specimen, with individual stems that are no more that somewhat elongated-globular, in contrast to the more cylindrical stems of Mammillaria duoformis, bears a profusion of deep carmine flowers in mid-summer. It is a sight to behold. ML345 comes from Chiautla - Cañada Grande, 10km south east of Chiautla, Puebla, at an altitude of 965m.

The central spine colour of Mammillaria fera-rubra, which is an ally of Mammillaria rhodantha and therefore scarcely requires a detailed description, is somewhat variable. It can be yellowish brown but can be a much brighter orange-red, in keeping with the specific epithet. The present material, from Mesa Garden, will give plants with this latter attractive colour in their spination. They will, of course, bear the typical deep red flowers freely in the late summer. Mammillaria glassii requires no introduction. As with Mammillaria dixanthocentron, it has proved markedly more variable than was initially anticipated, and this is a sound reason for raising seed from several sources particularly when, as in the present case, it is documented. ML456 comes from the Dieciocho de Marzo, Nuevo Leon, at an altitude of 2460m. We look forward to seeing plants at a study meeting a few years hence.

Seed of Mammillaria goodridgii has never been easy to obtain and we are pleased to have it available. Little had appeared in print about this rather diminutive member of the Ancistracanthae from Baja California and the adjacent Isla Cedros until the article by Sonia Barker-Fricker in the February 1996 issue of this Journal. Although it dealt with Mammillaria goodridgii v.rectispina, the variety with straight central spines, the excellent colour plates convey far more information than any words of mine.

The degree of difference between Mammillaria grahamii and Mammillaria microcarpa (milleri) is still a matter for debate by those with taxonomic inclinations, and need not concern us here. However, as Mammillaria microcarpa is tolerably well known most members will be able to form a good idea of the salient features of Mammillaria grahamii. To summarise, it is usually solitary, has a short cylindrical body, interlacing white radial spines, several prominent dark centrals, one of which is hooked. The flower is large for the genus, the petals having pink edges and a deeper central stripe. Like Mammillaria microcarpa it requires a well drained compost, a bright, warm position and care with the watering early and late in the season. Interestingly, and indeed importantly, the seed on offer comes from Colossal Cave, southern Arizona, which Professor Benson, a staunch advocate of Mammillaria grahamii, cites as the type locality of Mammillaria grahamii v.oliviae. This latter is readily separable as its central spines are much shorter and almost always straight. SB1784 comes from Dos Cabezas, and we recommend both to members, to grow for pleasure and, perhaps, to study.

Mammillaria haageana is one of the Mammillaria elegans group (apologies to Dr. Hunt) and is closely related, but has a more cylindrical body, is generally of darker appearance, and has longer, stronger central spines. Variants of it have been rather extensively collected by Alfred Lau and Werner Reppenhagen. The present seed comes from plants in cultivation that originated from seed ex El Linso_, Perote, Vera Cruz, at an altitude of 2600m. As it is unlikely to be available again from habitat for quite some time it is valuable material. Mammillaria karwinksiana poses few, if any, taxonomic problems. It belongs to the Series Polyedrae from southern Mexico which inter alia, are characterised by the presence of abundant white bristles in the axils. It has a dark grey green body and divides dichotomously to form a clump of heads with age.

The four or five shortish spines are rather inconspicuous. The flowers, yellow tinged green, sometimes with a reddish brown central stripe, appear in the spring. SB605, from Quiotepec, Oaxaca tends to develop a reddish colouration on the body, which is attractive, when grown in full sunshine.

Mammillaria lenta is one of the lesser known species in the Series Lasiacanthae, but it is as attractive and rewarding as Mammillaria lasiacantha and allied species. The flattened globular body, typically up to about four inches in diameter, after which it may offset, is covered by the glassy white spines, all radials. It requires a bright warm position to promote flowering. The blooms, which appear in April/May and are large for the Series Lasiacanthae, are pure white with a purplish-pink central stripe. Mammillaria magnimamma needs not introduction; it is undemanding, reliable, robust and free-flowering. It is also quite variable in its spination, which is a very good reason for trying JLH950729, for which we have no details, as it could produce quite interesting plants.

I cannot recall when Mammillaria (Cochemiea) maritima was previously listed; perhaps this is the first time, as seed has never been plentiful. Hence, members who do not have this desirable species should seize the opportunity. As it matures it forms a clump of cylindrical stems which are longer than appears at first sight, because they offset freely. The radial spines are pale brown and the centrals, one of which is hooked, are darker. My plant, which is about twelve inches in diameter, has never flowered, but I have seen markedly smaller specimens in bloom. Perhaps, as seems to be the case with Mammillaria senilis. there are flowering and non-flowering clones.

Mesa Garden offers seed of Mammillaria meiacantha from nine localities. The one we have selected, DJF1449, hails from Cedar Crest, New Mexico, and its particular characteristic is that the central spines are very dark, mostly black, so it is of distinctive appearance. It will not pose problems in cultivation and will produce flowers, creamy white with a brownish red central spine, quite freely in April/May. The history of the plant from San Pedro Nolasco Island, in the Gulf of California, to which the unpublished name Mammillaria nolascana became attached, is fascinating but it is too lengthy to precis here. Interested readers are referred to the article by Glass and Foster in the July/August 1975 issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.). When they visited the Island in November 1970 they recollected the plant and decided it was distinctive; they therefore named it Mammillaria tayloriorum. It is very attractive, globular to short cylindrical and clustering with age. The radial spines, about a dozen in number and the four or five centrals are very similar, white except in the new growth and hide the tubercles. The flowers are cerise with white margins and stand out against the white spines.

The spate of new names among Mammillaria spinosissima and its allies during recent years has tended to hide the fact that there are plants of longer standing in this group that are meritorious. Mammillaria nunezii, described in 1923, is one such. It has a robust cylindrical body as much as four inches in diameter. The spination is somewhat variable, with about two dozen stiff, white radials and between two and six stronger brown to black centrals. These are usually straight, but one may be hooked. It flowers with the freedom of Mammillaria spinosissima, in early summer.

Confusion surrounds the name Mammillaria obscura. It has been associated with Mammillaria petterssonii but, latterly, it has been attached to strongly spined plants in the states of Zacatecas and Durango which are certainly not of the Mammillaria petterssonii ilk. They tend to have strong curved central spines and palish flowers. We have no details for JLH950724, but hope that members will grow it and report in due course. Likewise Mammillaria ojuelensis, an unpublished name, is shrouded in mystery. It was collected by Werner Reppenhagen and bears his field number R629. In one of his early lists of these numbers he tentatively identified it as Mammillaria monancistracantha (nana) whereas the 1985 list published by the German Mammillaria Society records it as Mammillaria ojuelensis n.n. from Ojuelos de Jalisco, in the state of Jalisco. It receives no mention in the later two volume Reppenhagen monograph. Whatever its precise identity it is clear that it is one of the Stylothelae, and therefore well worth growing.

I have a very soft spot for Mammillaria pseudoperbella. Its symmetrical globose body is largely obscured by the fairly numerous interlacing white radial spines, against which the two short black centrals stand out. It is a pleasing sight, even in the depths of winter. Spring brings the pink flowers, usually in several complete rings, and it is then a joy to behold. What more need be said?

Lau1055, now better known as Mammillaria rekoi v.aureispina, is widely grown on account of its attractive golden spines. It has tended to steal the limelight from Mammillaria rekoi, which dates back to 1923, which is unfortunate, as this latter has its merits. Like Mammillaria nunezii the body is robust cylindrical, but more prone to offset and its central spines, dark red brown with one usually hooked, are more apparent relative to the radials. Its flowers, deep red with a purplish tinge, stand out very clearly. Mammillaria seitziana v.tolantongensis is something of a mouthful, which we owe to Herr Reppenhagen who, not surprisingly, named it after the Barranca de Tolantonga, Hidalgo, where it is found. In the judgement of Herr Reppenhagen Mammillaria seitziana is a plant which is clearly allied to Mammillaria magnimamma/centricirrha, with pink/carmine flowers, a view not shared by Dr. Hunt. Within this scheme his new variety differs in a number of details which, arguably, might be the result of the known variability of this group of species. Be that as it may it is worth growing, and as it does not offset it may appeal to those members with limited space.

Mammillaria sempervivi needs no detailed description. Variability is also a factor in this instance and the best plants have abundant white axillary wool which shows off to advantage the deep pink flowers. Hence, it is worth raising a batch of seedlings and selecting one or two that have the most wool. ML24 comes from the Barranca de Venados, Hidalgo, at an altitude of 1400m. I have written on more than one occasion that I fail to see significant differences between Mammillaria sheldonii and Mammillaria swinglei. It is therefore ironic that Mammillaria sheldonii v.[or f.] inae differs appreciably from both, in two obvious ways. It does not have a hooked central spine but a short stubby straight one. That said, this only develops at three or four years of age so those who purchase the seed now on offer should not be alarmed when the young plants produce hooked centrals. Secondly, the flower colour is pale, almost white with a pale pink central stripe. It should be more widely known and grown. The seed on offer comes from San Carlos Bay, Sonora.

I hope that John Pilbeam will not mind if I quote his opening remarks on Mammillaria sinistrohamata in his "Mammillaria: A Collectors Guide", because they are so apposite. He writes "In spite of various suggestions that this and other species (Mammillaria mercadensis, Mammillaria seideliana, Mammillaria zacatecasensis to name a few) should be declared synonymous, no one has done the dirty deed, and collectors still happily acquire the different species since they are readily distinguishable. The outstanding character of this species [Mammillaria sinistrohamata] is its overall yellow spination". I would only add that I find its cream flowers, which appear in April, an added attraction. TL84 comes from near the 89km marker on MEX45, near El Baluarte, Zacatecas, at an altitude of 2050m.

Arguably, the plant to which Alfred Lau gave his field number 086 should be left without a name until its identity has been reliably established. That would require more field studies, something that would be difficult given the attitude of the Mexican authorities to such ventures. L086 was regarded as a form of Mammillaria hertrichiana by Dr. Lau whereas Steven Brack prefers Mammillaria standleyi and Dr.Hunt is not wholly happy with either name. I find it difficult to accept it as Mammillaria standleyi because of its long twisted central spines and the fact that it grows on the Sierra Oscura, on the state border between Sonora and Chihuahua, well removed from the Sierra de Alamos, the type locality for Mammillaria standleyi. It is a very attractive plant, both because of its spination and carmine flowers and we hope that it will now become better known among Mammillaria enthusiasts.

Mammillaria tesopacensis is also one of the globular straight spined species from the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It has attractive spination, the centrals being up to an inch in length, brown and almost black at their tips. The flowers are less charismatic, being cream with a reddish brown central stripe. However, Mammillaria tesopacensis v.rubriflora, now on offer, provides the best of both worlds, with its attractive carmine flowers, and is recommended.

We are greatly indebted to Monsieur Lacoste for providing seed of Mammillaria verticealba v.zacatecasensis as, hitherto, it has been virtually unobtainable. The specific epithet means white head, and alludes to the fairly copious white wool at the crown, which makes this species markedly more attractive than some of its allies in the Series Heterochlorae. This is even more apparent in the variety on offer and it shows to advantage the central spines, usually about six in number, which are longer and curl over the apex. This is certainly one of the more distinctive of the Reppenhagen introductions. ML318 comes from Ciénegade Quijas, near to the triple border between the states of Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and Jalisco, at an altitude of 2340m.

During recent years it has become very clear that the flowers of Mammillaria viridiflora, which are appreciably smaller than those of Mammillaria wrightii, although having the same lanceolate petals, are found in a range of colours. Many are of a dusky pink hue rather than the green colour which led Britton and Rose to select the specific name. However, SB73, from the Pinalino Mountains, Arizona should provide the desired colour. Last, but certainly not least, Mammillaria zacatecasensis has been mentioned above in connection with Mammillaria sinistrohamata and the same comments are relevant. It is readily recognisable, attractive and floriferous. TL92 comes from Los Charcos, Durango, at an altitude of 2000m.