It's been a number of years in the making with a number of years to get it closer to being somewhat filled in ( a garden is NEVER finished, don't you agree) . I have a 4 acre property in rural Aridzona , about 1/2 to 3/4 of an acre is dedicated to largely C & S . I believe that there is in excess of some 600 varieties/variations of different C & S at this point , not including duplicates of some ( over 15 saguaro's, duplicates of others as well ) .
Start with a few pics of one of the features that we call "Table top mountain" , apropriate name as we live in sight of the tabletop mountain wilderness and with the pergola and table and chair set that we put on one of it's two peaks.
This mound/feature is some 5 feet tall, 135 feet long along it's ridgeline, 60 feet wide at it's widest . Probably close to 30 dump trucks of dirt went into it's making. Designed to be a terraced display case for the plants which I believe is coming along well .
in the pics above . I acquired another crested organ pipe here recently . Also above is a saguaro that has divided into two growing points . Here is a repeat of the organ pipe's and the new acquisition.
Over time I had been exposed to a number of variations of Senita that are seemingly natural variations that have occured in nature apparently spread through the Baja of Mexico but nowhere have I ben able to find anything on the internet that seems to document/verify thier existence .
Here are some pics of a "standard " Senita .
Note that the "whiskers" are gray,only grow on the upper/tops of the columns, inclined somewhat diagonally down toward the ground . These are soft enough that one can "pet" the "whiskers" when done with the grain . Even against the grain the thorns have some flexibility
Pic 2 & 3, What has been refered to me as "Gray ghost" Senita , note the gray coloring/coating on the column itself
Pics 4 & 5 Are of what has been called "Rhino" Senita to me . I seem to have gotten two variations of this version. What differentiates it from the others is that it forms the "whiskers from the time it emerges from the ground. Note the "pup" statrting from the base in pic 5 .
More on variations on Senita that I've found/learned about later if there is any interest .
How do you ever stop yourself from petting the whiskers? It would be like petting your cat or dog. Great photos. This looks like a full time operation for you. And the time it must take to keep on top of the knowledge about all the plants !! Keep posting please. Thanks, Xuling
Totally thornless , no glochids , smooooooooo...th to the touch.
So there is the original basic form of Senita;
There is no information that I have found yet on any of the sub- varieties on the internet about blondie, rhinos , gray ghost or others that I will display pics of . Those names are what have been given to me by mentors who happen to be the manager and the owner of a local cactus merchant (two different individuals) who through trading or travels have acquired and propagated these specimens . The story that I have gotten is that stretched throughout the Baja there has over time developed various sub populations . Unfortunately there does not seem to be any documentation of these populations existence .
Well I have gotten some live specimens here so I know that they do exist but I am scratching my head about them a bit .
Sounds like a topic worthy of the talents of a ;
"Veterinarian and Exotic Plant Lover... and obsessive, compulsive collector of all oddball tropical and desert plants."
to write a story on . Anybody around here know anybody like that ?
Back to Pachycereus schottii, there is the accepted monstrose forms . Even there there is sub groupings
Pachycereus schottii f. monstrosus "obesa" which is the thicker/fatter one, much more pronounced protuberences.
Pachycereus schottii f. monstrosus "mieckleyanus" the thinner form, less pronounced protuberences
Recently I got a spiraling form of Pachycereus schottii f. monstrosus "mieckleyanus" , a version that has a visible "twist" to its form . Mine is somewhat young yet but given time/growth this feature will become much more evident . I will get some pics of this form later when it matures more.
pic 1through 4 , Pachycereus schottii f. monstrosus "mieckleyanus", went through some hard freezes here recently so it is not looking at its best (I grow most of my plants out of doors year round)
A thinner form of the "normal" Senita, I am getting another plant of Senita from a different vendor , he calls it Pachycereus schottii "estrella" . The one that I have here does not have the "whiskers" yet . The one that I will be getting has "whiskers" already on it .
Hola lonediver, I have a couple of Dyckias but do not know much about them, but I agree with newtonsthirdlaw that it looks more like an aloe. And my memory of the bloom on my Dyckia 'Spiderwitch' is also much different. I willl look and see if I can find a photo. And here is one photo from 2011. The plant is now about triple the size. And thanks for all the other photos and information. I get involved in several different long term projects and can only allow so much time per project. Although I have books on cactus, etc. I cannot restudy them. In the second photo of 5 above (under the Pachycereus schotti f. monstrosus obesa), the back ground looks like a lake. Is it? Or perhaps just haze? Until later, Xuling
Hola newtonsthirdlaw, I did purchase the 'Spiderwitch' from Yucca Do and it has held up here fine (zone 9). I did have it covered for this 10 day cold spell (around 27 degrees average) that we just completed. But I don't think covering it was necessary. I did it only because it was in a cactus bed and some of them needed to be covered. However for zone 7, I don't know how cold that gets, it might have difficulties.I know that I do. ja ja ja. Xuling
Very nice plants Baja. I have been going through various on line nurseries (real nurseries with on line sites) and putting lots of plants in 'wish lists' and some of them are Dyckias. I never wanted to get potted plants, I wanted them all in the ground, but have just about run out of room. So the choice is more pots or less plants. What an icky choice. Xuling
xuling wrote:Very nice plants Baja. I have been going through various on line nurseries (real nurseries with on line sites) and putting lots of plants in 'wish lists' and some of them are Dyckias. I never wanted to get potted plants, I wanted them all in the ground, but have just about run out of room. So the choice is more pots or less plants. What an icky choice. Xuling
Third choice; get a bigger piece of ground
Drawback ; it is still possible to run out of space ( I have 4 acres and starting to see my choices limited )
Have you ever seen any of these different Senita strains around your neck of the world ? The Baja, Sonoran desert is where they are supposed to be native to . As I said above I have poked around the internet and found so far no reference to these and there are a number more variations that I have become aware of.
South of here there are some interesting cacti like that... seen them passing through. More P. pringlei though. We're out of the Sonoran desert here so the native plants are more like California chaparral. Have to drive about 3 hours south to get to where the desert starts.
Xuling, the space constraints may be a blessing in disguise. I think Dyckias probably work better in containers. They are so well armed that when you go to pick off the offsets from the underside of a plant, it makes a huge difference to be able to pop the plant out of its pot and work on it from below. They behave quite well in pots. Regular water is good, otherwise the tips die back.
Hi Lonediver great pictures! I have some cactus envy going on! ;-)
On your notes about the Senita varieties you have come across. I have looked in the book 'The Cactus Family' by Anderson and he states and I paraphrase: several varieties have been described but none require recognition. I did a little more digging and found a scientific article in the American Journal of Botany that looks into the evolutionary origin of Lophocereus within the within the North American columnar cacti (tribe Pachycereeae). It furthermore has a section that reads as follows:
'The genus Lophocereus presently includes two described species, the Baja California localized endemic L. gatesii and the more common and widespread L. schottii. The latter consists of three described varieties, L. schottii var. australis, L. schottii var. schottii, and L. schottii var. tenuis (Lindsay, 1963⇓). The molecular phylogenetic relationships among these varieties and between L. schottii and L. gatesii are not known.' (reference: Phylogenetic origins of Lophocereus (Cactaceae) and the senita cactus–senita moth pollination mutualism by Stefanie Hartmann, John D. Nason and Debashish Bhattacharya, American Journal of Botany, doi: 10.3732/ajb.89.7.1085; July 2002 vol. 89 no. 7 1085-1092).
It then does not really go into detail about the different varieties, but one of the main conclusions they do reach is that there is extremely little (if any that they could detect) phylogenetic difference between the three different varieties. So it would seem that there definitely is acknowledgement of the different varieties of Senita that you have come across, but that within in the scientific field of botany these varieties are not officially recognized - or at least that there is significant discussion about recognition of those or not.
The reference that is found in the text quoted above about the varieties of Lophocereus is as follows:
Lindsay G. 1963. The genus Lophocereus. Cactus and Succulent Journal 35: 176-192, which is the journal of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. They sell the back issues on DVD on their website. I have so far not been able to find that particular paper on-line in downloadable form.
Lonediver I came across one other scientific article about the varieties of Lophocereus schottii and their origin:
HISTORICAL VICARIANCE AND POSTGLACIAL COLONIZATION EFFECTS ON THE EVOLUTION OF GENETIC STRUCTURE IN LOPHOCEREUS, A SONORAN DESERT COLUMNAR CACTUS. By: JOHN D. NASON J. L. HAMRICK AND THEODORE H. FLEMING. In: Evolution, 56(11), 2002, pp. 2214–2226.
It would seem that this paper would suggest that the varieties came into existence due to isolation of different Senita populations due to geographic isolation caused by contraction of its geographic range during the ice ages of the most recent geologic history. As climate got significantly colder the suitable areas for Senita to survive would decrease and create isolated populations that would expand as climate warmed up and in some areas would have mixed again, while others like on Baja Peninsula remained more isolated. Some of those populations remained isolated long enough from each other to develop a distinct phylo-type (appearance), but as far as I can tell this is not represented by huge genetic differences between the different varieties of Senita. My background is in geology, not biology or genetics, so my understanding of the discussion that involves the detailed genetics and such is limited.
Anyway, very interesting, I will have to try and find some more time try and dig into this further and acquire a few specimens of the different varieties of Senita for the yard!
mcvansoest, this is some of the best reading I have ever seen on DG. It is easily readable, but I can't be positive that I understand much of it. I come from a totally different background (s) but I have always found information like you have shared above interesting. Does this make sense to you? I am not being wise or snide. I do have some of books on Cactus and similar plants but I don't have time to re-read and study them. Too many other interests. It would probably help my gardens vastly if I knew more. But I love the way you summarized your readings. Xuling
Hi xuling, thanks and I understand what you are saying, as I wrote above this genetics and scientific botany stuff also challenges me, not my field of expertise, but the stuff about the geographical isolation during some of the recent ice ages touches directly upon geologic subject matter, which is my area of expertise (I work at a research university - ASU), so I could understand enough of what they were saying in those articles to make a little bit of sense out of it.
It is interesting though that we plant enthusiasts and the nursery owners who sell us the specimens, all clearly see these different Senitas as distinct, but that on a purely scientific level there is significant discussion about recognizing these varieties or not, with what appears to be the majority of specialists leaning towards not recognizing them, because apparently they are genetically not different enough.
My search was not exhaustive though, so who knows, a lot might have changed since those two papers were published...