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Gustav Nikiforov
Gustav Nikiforov


It's autumn and the ariocarpus are in bloom. Typical of cacti, they do it spectacularly. But atypical of cacti, ariocarpus are not easy to grow. Unless you live in Texas or northeastern Mexico, forget about growing them out in the open. Yet give these stacked-looking cacti a Texas mudflat, and they settle right in.



The only evidence of an ariocarpus' presence in habitat may be a multi-pointed star outlined in sunbaked sand. Their large beet-like roots shrink during the dry season, pulling the plant down into the ground. Burying themselves in this lithops-like way helps ariocarpus conserve moisture and discourages thirsty predators. Yet considering how these succulents resemble piped frosting with whipped cream, such concealment seems a shame.

You'll likely need a cold frame or greenhouse to keep ariocarpus warm and dry in winter. To me that's too much trouble, but serious collectors are OK with it. And that brings me to the point (no pun intended) of this post: You needn't bother actually growing ariocarpus, because you can see fantastic specimens at shows.

Certain specialty nurseries offer ariocarpus, notably CA Cactus Center in Pasadena. Also view mature plants at Cactus & Succulent Society Shows. Southern CA collector-grower Peter Walkowiak typically brings a half dozen prime specimens to the Palomar C&S Show at the San Diego Botanic Garden. The event is held annually the last weekend in October, which coincides with ariocarpus' bloom season.

Do you have an ariocarpus story, tip or question? Kindly scroll down and tell us in the comments! And if you think I've ID'd a plant incorrectly or need to give credit where due---here or anywhere on my site---please let me know. Thanks, Debra

I have two different ariocarpus I keep outside year around in pots in my back porch in Tucson, AZ. I never knew what they were until I read this newsletter. Cool. Thanks for all the great info you share.

A little bit of water goes a long way with ariocarpus. In winter, withhold water altogether, unless tubercles are so shriveled they have lost dimension. When watering in spring and summer, do so very lightly. Choose a fertilizer that is very weak and has calcium in it, and perhaps apply only once or twice during the growing season. In pot cultivation, try to water very small amounts around the root zone only.

A. retusus is an extremophile, so it can take plenty of sun. DO NOT purchase a plant grown indoors or in a greenhouse and immediately expose it to full sun. Slowly introduce the cactus to more and more light. Avoid having any ariocarpus in the rain, as it can lead to a quick death. A. retusus ssp. retusus seems to bloom in fall to early winter. Whenever the days become shorter, the growing season is coming to a halt.

There are many different types of ariocarpus sold by sellers on Etsy. Some of the popular ariocarpus available on Etsy include: ariocarpus seeds, ariocarpus retusus, copiapoa, astrophytum, aztekium, and even turbinicarpus. Check them out here.

Accepted Scientific Name: Ariocarpus bravoanus H.M.Hern. & E.F.AndersonBradleya 10: 1. 1992Ariocarpus fissuratus subs. bravoanus (Ariocarpus bravoanus) Photo by: Diego ArmentanoOrigin and Habitat: Limited to few very small areas within the state of San Luis Potosí. The plant was discovered accidentally in soil removed whilst extracting a specimen of a larger species by Hector Hernández of UNAM whilst collecting cacti for a herbarium project. The extent of occurrence for Ariocarpus bravoanus is about 2,000 km, the population is severely fragmented. The species population exceeds 10,000 individuals in several distinct colonies comprising more than fourteen locations. Altitude range: The species occurs at elevations raging from 1,500 to 2,000 metres above sea level.Habitat: This species grows in xerophytic shrubland on a limestone gravel plain amongst creosote bush. In the dry season the plants shrivel and almost disappear under the level of the soil. The habitat is locally classified as matorral desértico micrófilo (Rzedowski 1978). In the wild the plant is extremely endangered, and there is continuing decline due to the impacts of illegal collection, agricultural activities and other human disturbance. The type locality was systematically stripped by locals collecting the plants for sale and all the plants have been virtually collected out. Some localities are still untouched, but should collectors find these. Local people also use several ariocarpus species, including A. bravoanus, for medicinal purposes. 041b061a72


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