ISI 2013-2. Echinocactus grusonii Hildmann fa. brevispinus

The golden-barrel cactus has become the quintessential landscape cactus, prized for its squat, cushion-like stems to 60 cm across covered in golden-yellow spines. Despite its remarkable uniformity, it is no surprise that some variations have arisen among the millions of plants grown from seed in cultivation. Some of these forms, such as the one offered here, have been stabilized through continued breeding. The epithet brevispinus refers to the shorter than normal spines that emerge from wooly areoles that line the edges of the ribs, though seedlings are at first tuberculate, the tubercles merging into ribs by the time the plants mature to about 10 cm diameter. These short spines reveal the bright green epidermis beneath and give mature plants an appearance reminiscent of Echinocactus platyacanthus. More readily available in Europe, this form is not so common in the US where mass plantings of the normal golden barrel have become commonplace. It will be interesting to see how landscape designers combine these forms as quantities become available. Whether in mass or singly, in the landscape or in a container, this is a worthy addition to any collection. HBG 118291. $6.

Photo © 2013 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 85 (2), March - April, 2013