P. phyllanthus (leaf-flowering).—This species is now rarely seen in cultivation. As the oldest of the garden kinds it is, however, deserving of a little notice. Philip Miller grew it in his collection in 1710. The branches are broad and flat, the edges waved, not notched, and the flowers are composed of a thin tortuous tube, 9 in. in length, bearing at the top a whorl of recurved greenish petals, 1 in. long, with a cluster of whitish stamens and a green, club-shaped style and stigma. Brazil.
P. phyllanthoides (phyllanthus-like); Bot. Mag. 2092.—For the introduction of this handsome-flowered kind we are indebted to the great travellers and naturalists, Humboldt and Bonpland, who discovered it growing in the woods upon the trunks of old trees around Cartagena in South America. Plants of it were forwarded by them to France, where they flowered for the first time in 1811. From that time till now this species has been in favour as a garden plant, though it is, at the present time, much less common in English gardens than it deserves to be. The branches are broad, triangular when young, flat when old, about 1 ft. long by 2 in. wide, with shallow incisions, the serrations rather sharply angled. The height of the plant is from 2 ft. to 3 ft. The flowers are produced on the margins of the young branches, and are composed of a short, thick tube, not more than 2 in. in length, and short, dark, recurved scales; the petals are broad, pointed, and form a stellate cluster about 4 in. across; they are of a bright rose-colour, streaked with white, and shaded here and there with a darker colour of red. The stamens are numerous and pure white. The flowers open in the day-time, and are scentless; they last in perfection for two or three days, and may, therefore, be employed as cut flowers for vases, &c. Early summer.
Hybrids and varieties.
In addition to the cultivated species of Phyllocactus there are numerous hybrids and varieties, many of which are beautiful and distinct either in colour or in size of blossom.
The following is a selection of the best of them:
P. albus superbus (superb white).—The most beautiful of white-flowered kinds. Flowers fragrant, 6 in. across, resembling those of the night-blossoming Cereus grandiflorus; sepals greenish-white, petals pure white.
P. aurantiacus superbus (superb orange).—A compact plant, with numerous large, brick-red flowers, 5 in. to 6 in. in diameter.
P. Conway’s Giant.—Flowers full, deep scarlet, about 8 in. in diameter.
P. Cooperi (Cooper’s).—An English hybrid, remarkable for its large, beautiful yellow flowers.
P. Franzi (Franz’s).—Flowers 3 in. to 4 in. across; petals numerous, outer ones scarlet, inner violet.
P. General Garibaldi.—Flowers very large, scarlet, tinged with orange on the reflex side.
P. grandiflorus (large-flowered).—Flowers bell-shaped, 4 in. across; sepals narrow, scarlet; petals incurved and of a fiery orange-scarlet colour.