Melocactus peruvianus

Today’s photograph and write-up are courtesy of one of my UBC Botanical Garden colleagues, Eric La Fountaine, taken during one of his visits to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona. Eric writes:

Because of their interesting and colourful form, species of Melocactus are a favourite of hobbyists. They have two distinct growth phases. In the juvenile phase, the typical-looking spiny globe or cylinder is formed. In the adult phase, a cephalium forms at the growth point of the base. This fuzzy-looking structure is a mass of areoles, which bear the reproductive structures. Cephalia can vary considerably in size, colour and structure. They are slow growing, but may persist for years and produce flowers each season (via Anderson’s 2001 work, The Cactus Family).

Melocactus peruvianus is native to Peru and Ecuador at elevations below 1270 metres. Its dark green globose or cylindrical base grows to around 20 cm tall and wide. The cephalia are generally small, but can grow as tall as 20 cm. It forms bright red flowers and fruit.

Melocactus peruvianus

6 responses to “Melocactus peruvianus”

  1. Kathleen

    Oh my gosh it looks like ice cream with a cherry on top!

  2. Wendy Semko

    I have been to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and the place is awesome. Gorgeous botanical display. Could have spent days there. Great birding there too.
    Beautiful picture!

  3. Peony Fan

    I really appreciate this explanation about the cephalia–the two distinct-looking parts have always puzzled me. Love the photo but it makes me wonder–is that just one “fruit” left of many or are the flowers/fruits sparse?

  4. Wendy Cutler

    I’ll second what Wendy Semko said. I was happy to see a plant from Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I only wished I’d got a list of from Eric of what to look for before I went, not that I had any trouble finding stuff to look at.
    I’ll second what Peony Fan said too about reading about the two growth phases. That makes me want to read more about other Cactaceae (carefully avoiding having to write the plural of cactus).

  5. elizabeth a airhart

    the snow in arizona usa paints a differnt picture of the cacti etc
    do take a look on the net—anyone here with a photo or two
    from the storm thank you for the picture and write up
    bon jour

  6. Jenn

    This isn’t grafted?
    Wow. I would never have thought this to be one plant.

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