Habitat: Mexico, Texas
Cultivation: The ideal environment of Ariocarpus is in full sun and with a good air circulation. The watering must be infrequent (once every 7-10 days in the summer) but in plentiful amounts of water.
Curiosity: The Ariocarpus are so rare as to be endangered, they were known to the Indian tribes under the name chaute (glue)in fact they obtained such material from the plants and used it to paste the clay pots.
ARIOCARPUS KEY FEATURES
We could compare the plants of the genus Ariocarpus to the oysters: they are hard to find and can reveal a beautiful and precious treasure (their flower). The Ariocarpus are in fact small plants, often with foliage that turns to gray, that in nature is very well camouflaged with rocks and soils of the Mexican regions from which they come. We can not say the same as regards the flower, which is spectacular and that helps to identify them during the flowering period. Do not think, though, to get it as a souvenir of your travels: they are severely threatened with extinction and for that legal trade of wild plants is prohibited. They are solitary plants, usually of small dimensions, also called “the rocks Cactus” or “fossil cactus”. They have a faster germination (few days) but a very slow growth. The root is usually formed by a big bulb, often larger than the visible part. The latter is instead made up of a small rosette with thick and strong leaves, without thorns, sometimes with tubercles covered by fluff on the top. The flowers appear from these tubercles in the fall and can be pink or purple. Some, in the following spring, form an acorn.
VARIETY AND TYPES
The genus Ariocarpus includes six species. As already mentioned, the majority are from Mexico while only one comes from South Texas.
The current botanical classification dates back to the ’60s and includes six different main species:
• Ariocarpus agavoides
• A. bravoanus
• A. fissuratus
• A. kotschoubeyanus
• A. retusus
• A. scaphirostris
TIPS FOR GROWING
The Ariocarpus are considered difficult to grow, but all the attention and care that they require will be amply compensated by the satisfaction that they will give you.
These are our recommendations:
• Exposure in full sun, with well ventilated environment. This type of exposure does not stimulate the growth of the plant, which remains very slow, but strengthens and limits the risk of pests to which Ariocarpus are unfortunately very subject.
• The minimum temperature should remain about 6-8 ° C, in a dry environment.
• It must only be watered when the soil is completely dry, but with plenty of water: it will avoid that the roots, which are hard to reform especially in plants with a few years of age, dry out and get damaged.
• We recommend a clay soil mixed with gravel. The gravel should not be angular in order not to injure the root.
• Even if the plant does not need frequent repotting (as already said, it has a very slow growth), during this operation it is good to use extreme care not to damage nor the main root nor the small filamentous roots that branch off from it.
The reproduction is done by seed. As mentioned, the plants have a rather slow growth: because of that, when the new plant has finished sprout, it is better to graft it on a fast-growing plant to give it more force in a shorter time.