Monday, 19 October 2009

Round and Red


As Patron of the Cacti and Succulent Society of New South Wales, it is always a pleasure to feature a cactus here. This week it’s the intense red flowers of the rare (in nature) Echinopsis formosa.

This globular cactus is growing just outside the entrance of the Cacti & Succulent Garden. It’s not that it isn’t welcome inside the fence, just that it has particular relevance to our Rare and Threatened Garden theme in the neighbouring beds – this species is at risk of extinction in the wild due to over collecting by cacti and succulent fanciers.

It used to be called Soehrensia formosa. Soehrensia was a genus of about 10 species from Argentina and Bolivia, and this particular one grows in the north-west of Argentina.

I should note there is some disagreement and inconsistency in the names used for this cactus and I notice that Trichocereus formosus is a name also cited in a list of potentially weedy species for Australia. By the way, although a plant can be rare in its natural habitat and a weed somewhere else, the listing doesn’t seem to be suggesting it is a weed (yet?) in Australia. Just one to watch.

If we accept Echinopsis, this is a largish genus of about 120 species, often called the Sea Urchin, Easter Lily or Hedgehog cacti. Echinopsis formosa itself is called Koko or Pasakana locally, if you live in Argentina I think.

Even in this picture taken by Simon Goodwin last week the flowers are well advanced, and I couldn’t see any new buds when I walked past this morning. But the intense red flowers will be around for this week at least. Here it is close up of the bloom, again care of Simon's camera:

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