I came home from this year’s Texas Association of Cactus and Succulent Societies (TACSS) seminar with a Melocactus Salvadorensis, the first melocactus I have added to my collection.
Native to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America, this is a cactus you won’t find just anywhere for sale. This particular one, M. Salvadorensis, is found in Brazil. Depending on the lighting, the body sometimes looks gray-blue, like here, but at other times, more green, like in the picture below. Same plant, just a different view. You can see from this angle what makes this cactus distinctive, the cephalium in the center on top of the plant. You can also see the remains of the pink flowers that had already closed by the time I bought it.
The cephalium is covered with white wool and orange or red bristles, and grows taller as the plant matures. Once the cephalium starts to form and grow, the body of the cactus stops growing! The plant stays about the same size, but the cephalium continues to grow upward. Obviously, mine is old enough to have a cephalium, but young enough that it is not very tall yet. I have no idea how old this plant is, perhaps anywhere from five to ten years old, maybe older.
To give you an idea how it will look over time, these Melocactus peruvianus found in Peru and shared with us by Guillermo Rivera at the Mid-States Cactus and Succulent Conference in Independence, Missouri this June, are old enough that they have much taller cephaliums. And they will continue to get taller as time goes by.
Photo courtesy of Guillermo Rivera
The growing season for this species is from April to October, and it will rest from October to next year’s April when I hope it will bloom again and perhaps add some growth to that cephalium. They are said to not tolerate the cold, so it will stay inside for the winter where it can stay snug and warm till it warms up next year.
I will be anxious to see what happens, come spring. Stay tuned. I hope it will once again produce flowers which, of course, I will be compelled to share with you!