Cactus Culture for Amateurs eBook

William Watson (poet)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about Cactus Culture for Amateurs.

E. Gaertneri (Gaertner’s).—­This is an interesting and beautiful hybrid, raised from Epiphyllum and a Cereus of some kind.  The branchlets are exactly the same as those of E. truncatum, but the flowers are not like Epiphyllum at all, resembling rather those of Cereus or Phyllocactus.  They are brilliant scarlet in colour, shaded with violet.

E. magnificum (magnificent).—­Tube rosy-violet; petals dark red.

E. salmoneum (salmon-coloured).—­Tube and base of petals white, rest salmon-red, shaded with purple.

E. spectabile (remarkable).—­Tube and base of petals white; tips of petals carmine.

E. tricolor (three-coloured).—­Tube salmon-red; petals red, centre purplish.

E. violaceum (violet).—­Tube white; petals carmine, margined with violet-purple.



(From phyllon, a leaf, and Cactus).

As in the case of the Epiphyllums, the principal character by which the Phyllocactus is distinguished is well described by the name, the difference between it and Epiphyllum being that in the former the flowers are produced along the margins of the flattened branches, whereas in the latter they are borne on the apices of the short, truncate divisions.  If we compare any of the Phyllocactuses with Cereus triangularis, or with C. speciosissimus, we shall find that the flowers are precisely similar both in form and colour, and sometimes also in size.

In all the kinds the stem is compressed laterally, so as to look as if it had been hammered out flat; or sometimes it is three-angled, and the margins are deeply notched or serrated.  These notches are really the divisions between one leaf and another, for the flat, fleshy portions or wings of the stems of these plants are simply modified leaves—­not properly separated from each other and from the stem, but still to all intents and purposes leaves—­which, as the plant increases and matures, gradually wither away, leaving the central or woody portion to assume the cylindrical stem which we find in all old Phyllocactuses.  It is from these notches that the large, showy flowers are developed, just as in plants the flowers of which are borne from the axils of the leaves.

Under the names “Spleenwort-leaved Indian Figs,” and “Winged Torch-thistles,” as well as those here adopted, the most beautiful perhaps of all Cactuses, and certainly the most useful in a garden sense, have been cultivated in English gardens for more than 150 years; for it was in 1710 that the flowering of E. Phyllanthus was first recorded in English horticulture.  Philip Miller grew it with many other Cactuses in the botanical garden at Chelsea which was founded by Sir Hans Sloane, in 1673, to be maintained “for the manifestation of the power, wisdom, and glory of God in the works of creation,” and which still exists as the botanical emporium of the Apothecaries’ Society.  The majority of the gorgeous Phyllocactuses which we now possess are of only recent introduction, or are the result of cultivation and crossing.

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Cactus Culture for Amateurs from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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