I bought two Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispinus the other day, one with two buds in hopes of seeing cool flowers. And I did! See a cool flower, that is.
But the nice thing about this cactus is that it is equally pretty without the flower. It also has cool reddish-pink spines, just about the same color as its flower. Ruber is Latin for red, hence the name rubrispinus. The spines are said to turn pale yellow with age, but I’m hoping it takes a long time for that to happen!
E. rigidissimus rubrispinus is native to Chihuahua and Sonora, Mexico, and can also be found in Arizona and New Mexico. It is becoming less common in Arizona and New Mexico, probably due to poachers and loss of habitat, but also, I suspect, from the fact that new plants are produced only by seeds. The plants rarely produce offsets nor make branches, so good pollination for viable seeds is crucial, and that may slow down reproduction.
Those pretty flowers come in late April through June, so mine flowered right on schedule. One bloomed one day, and two days later, the other one opened. Apparently these blooms stay open more than one day, a plus, since most cactus blooms are good for only one day.
I will be watching the fruit from these two flowers, which should be greenish to dark purple with white flesh and dark brown/black seeds. And if I am lucky, perhaps I will see a volunteer seedling come up by the parent plant.
These plants like south-facing slopes and is rarely seen growing on flat ground, so time will tell if these two like living in the flat High Plains. Ha! They also like to grow in rocky soil full of rocks for quick-drying time, so pumice or gravel in the soil is a good idea. And the literature says they have a weak root system and are prone to root rot, so watering during the winter is not a good idea.
The literature also said they are prone to mealy bugs, which happen to be the bane of my cactus existence, so I will need to watch them closely and not let an infestation get started.
I hope we have a long relationship together.