Ortegocactus macdougalli (2011)

PhotoBy Joe Merkelbach (July 2011)

Ortegocactus macdougalli, the image for this year’s club T-shirt, is a monotypic genus, with only one member species, from a small, distinctive area of Oaxaca, Mexico. These are some facts about the plant.

The habitat is restricted to gladelike slopes in dissected limestone. The plants are found only on Cero Cantaro in the vicinity of San Jose Lachiguiri, a small village to the south of Mexico City. The plant is named for the local Ortega family, which brought it to the attention of collector Tom MacDougall. The species was formally named by Edward Alexander in 1961.

The plant is on the CITES II list as endangered in habitat. This designation is likely due to the fact that the range is so small that all of the wild population could be severly affected by a single catastrophic event. The species seems to be very popular in cultivation worldwide and would no doubt continue in horticulture.

The distinctive color of the plant body is one of its main appealing points. It is a unique shade for cacti and looks to be a good camouflage for blending into the light gray limestone substrate. The color is probably also protective against high sunlight intensity.

O. macdougalli plants are perhaps 1.5 inches in diameter with stems up to 6 inches tall. Clumps are the typical form in habitat; older ones have many heads. The lower sections of stems get a red, corky appearance as they age, both in habitat and in cultivated plants. This seems to be a feature of natural maturity, as opposed to a diseased condition.

The bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers are nearly as large as the plant body, and the bright green stigma at the tip of the pistil is very eye-catching. The flowers last only two or three days.

Wikipedia –
University of Connecticut –
Cactusmania – –