Purple peyote seedlings - a sign of extreme conditions
A purple colored epidermis is a common stress indicator for a number of cacti - stress caused either by cold or draught - and consequently can be seen as a sign of extreme growing conditions.
The peyote seedlings in the above photo haven’t seen a drop of water since late August/early September, i.e. they have been without water for almost half a year. And the last time I checked, the temperature in the coldhouse where the seedlings grow had been as low as -10C (14F). Extreme conditions for peyote seedlings indeed! And the explanation for their purple hue.
The plants are grown from seed originating from El Oso, Coahuila, Mexico. Given the locality and the seedlings’ ability to endure extreme cold and dry conditions I expect them to be Lophophora williamsii var. echinata.
Speaking of purple Lophophora williamsii var. echinata the below photo was posted a while ago by Keeper Trout. The picture shows a patch of mature peyote turned purple by the cold. According to Trout, the area in Texas where the plants grow had experienced a "hundred year freeze" including three days where the highest temperature measured at a nearby locality was 10F (less than -12C).
Purple peyote in habitat in Texas
The frost in western Texas killed off a lot of things considered freeze-hardy - including the dead peyote pictured below. This plant was from a different population than the purple patch pictured above and might have seen slightly colder temperatures, but still it’s a good indication that the freezing temperatures these plants experienced are at the limit of what Lophophora williamsii var. echinata will stand.
Dead peyote in habitat in Texas
As mentioned at the beginning of this post a purple tinted epidermis is a common sign of stress in many cacti. Another example from my coldhouse is the purplish-hued Ariocarpus retusus pictured below.
Purple tinted Ariocarpus retusus (SB 310; Cuesta la Muralla, Coahuila)
The mature peyote photos are courtesy of Keeper Trout and the Cactus Conservation Institute and originate from this post on The Corroboree.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Winter dormant peyote cactus
Following a relatively mild period the last couple of years have seen freezing cold winters here in Denmark - winters that have been tough to my coldhouse grown plants, and especially the deep frost of 2009/2010 killed off a significant number of my coldhouse collection. But it also separated the wheat from the chaff leaving a pretty cold-hardy assemblage of plants, the dormant Lophophora williamsii var. echinata (JJH 8608293; Pecos River area) pictured above being a majestic example.
Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus var. macdowellii (SB 100; El Pilar, Coahuila)
Most of the cacti growing in the coldhouse are selected for their (sometimes assumed) ability to survive freezing conditions. For example I prefer the Trans-Pecos variety of peyote as it is more frost hardy than the tender regular variety - and the different Ariocarpi all originate from the northernmost part of the species’ respective ranges.
Ariocarpus fissuratus (SB 403; Crockett Co, Texas)
Even though the cacti already have survived several cold winters I can’t deny that I still worry what plants will die off during winter (as some inevitably will).
The pictures appearing in this post were taken between Christmas and New Year - at that time the plants had already been exposed to temperatures in the vicinity of -10 C (approximately 14 F). Since then they have seen both mild and humid weather and long periods of frost - I expect that these fluctuations in temperature are harder to cope with for the plants than uniform periods of cold, but it’s just a hunch. Anyway I’m eagerly looking forward to spring :-)
Ariocarpus retusus (SB 310; Cuesta la Muralla, Coahuila)
But it is not just the cold that poses a threat to my plants. Previously critters have eaten large bites out of some of my peyote plants and now several of my Normanbokea valdeziana plants have met the same destiny... I still haven’t figured out what culprit is eating my cacti (or at least tasting and spitting out again)!
Normanbokea valdeziana (SB 1468; Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico) eaten into by some unknown critter
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Flowering stand of San Pedro cacti (Trichocereus pachanoi)
To me the main draw of the San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi (syn. Echinopsis pachanoi)), a fast-growing columnar cactus native to the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and Peru, has always been that it is unsurpassed as a grafting stock. In my opinion it is the perfect rootstock for grafted peyote and similar cacti, as it ensures fast growth and is long-lived.
That being said a towering stand of San Pedro cacti is spectacular in its own right, and the large, beautiful, fragrant flowers are nothing less than awesome!
San Pedro cactus flower bud
I took these pictures last summer but will not disclose the exact location. After peyote (Lophophora williamsii) the San Pedro cactus is one of the most mescaline rich species of cacti and is widely sought after for recreational use - I’m sure the grower of these plants will be quite angry if they are maimed and disfigured by “I, me, mine” types looking for a quick trip. If you are so inclined, grow your own plants.
Spent San Pedro flower
As I said, San Pedro flowers are nothing less than awesome :-)
San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi) flower close-up
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