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St. Louis, Missouri
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Along with other articles, columns and club updates, each monthly issue of the Henry Shaw Cactus Digest includes an article or two on members' favorite cactus and succulent species. The articles typically include photos and facts on the plants' natural origins and distribution, growing conditions, common and scientific names, care and cultivation tips, and helpful hints for encouraging flower production. Follow the links below this month's offering(s) to enjoy previous Plants of the Month.
May 2007 -- Pelecyphora aselliformis
By Chris Deem
To me, looking at a Pelecyphora aselliformis is like looking at a living fossil. Like fossils, it too can be found in limestone in the arid hills near San Luis Potosi. In captivity, the plants appear a deep shade of green.
This one is about 4 inches tall. Its clublike body, with its rounded felt-covered growing tip, tilts toward the sunlight. Its clean, pampered body displays unique turbercles, elongated aeroles and tiny spines.
Looking strangely like a fossilized fern, it sits in a clean clay pot, and at its crown are three violet flowers. Beautiful like a work of art, but I like to think of it in its wild state.
Perhaps somewhere on an isolated hill in Mexico, a Pelecyphora aselliformis clump has grown a long time. The heads that protrude from the ground are more gray than green. They seem flatter, and some are scorched. None are in bloom.
They are well established, as their thick storage roots are sunk deep in the ground. They sit in the broken limestone and wait for water. In time, it will come.
Pelecyphora aselliformis grow best in full sunlight and very porous growing mix. These slow-growing, sensitive cacti are grown naturally from seed and, alternatively, as grafted plants.
May 2007 -- Spring Flowers
By Pam Schnebelen, Education Chairwoman
This has been one of the strangest spring seasons in my memory. And colorwise, this is the most boring spring ever. When I look out into the forest, I see green and brown. What happened to the spring flowers?
The typical Ozark forest in spring is flush with color. Pinks, yellows, purples, reds. Not this year. The 80-degree heat wave in March was followed by a severe killing freeze in April. Usually, native plants do well in our erratic weather. This year, it may be weeks before the canopy leafs out. With fewer acorns and hickory nuts, some are predicting a major decline in the deer population this coming winter.
Of course, invasive species are thriving. The bush honeysuckles Lonicera maackii and L. morrowii are happy and lush. The silver maples, Acer saccharinum, are spewing their seeds everywhere; the winter creeper, Euonymus fortunei, is lush; and the autumn olive, Elaeagnus umbellata, looks like nothing abnormal happened.
To see spring flowers, I retreat to the greenhouse. Many cacti are blooming: mammillarias, turbinicarpus, parodias, echinopsis. The haworthias, gasterias, and aloes are putting up long flower stalks. And the euphorbias are displaying whatever combination of flowers their particular species displays -- male, female or both.
Let's have a celebration of spring flowers for POM! Bring your blooming succulent plants to brag on. But expect to know the difference between a male flower and a female flower when you leave!
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