Ariocarpus trigonus var. minor
Ariocarpus trigonus is from Mexico, where it is endemic in the area of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon. Its habitat lies in a altitude range of 600-1200 meters above sea level: it grows on limestone and tend to form colonies made up of numerous individuals. The length of the limn of its habitat is around 400 km.
Ariocarpus trigonus is a rare, small cacti with an unusual aspect: it’s a globose plant which comes off barely from the ground, reaching a maximum height of 4 to 25 centimeters. In diameter, it can become 5 to 30 centimeters wide. Though it’s a part of the family of Cactaceae, it doesn’t look like a cactus at all. First of all, it has leaves, unlike most cacti; in addiction, it doesn’t have spines. Instead, it has erect, tough, triangular, pointed leaves, very sharp, 4 to 8 centimeters long and 1-3 centimeters wide, rather curved. Biologically, they aren’t actually leaves but tubercles: like the ones typical of other cacti species. The areoles (which are the buds of species belonging to the Cactaceae family) instead, are present only in the basal part. Among the leaves, A. trigonus shows typical woolly, white and fluffy, button-shaped organs. These kind of structures are very common in plants from arid environment, as they help to minimize the water loss through transpiration from the stem. The root is a strongly developed taproot, which helps these species to survive the harsh conditions of its natural habitat, acting as an efficient storage for water and nutrients. It tend to form solitary rosette. In botany, a rosette is a circular arrangement of the leaves, often at ground level.
Its beautiful flowers, along with the oddity of its aspect, are one of the reasons why A. trigonus is so sought after by cacti collectors. They are pink or creamy yellow, with numerous petals, up to 5 centimeters in diameter and 4 centimeters in length, and they open at the top of the stems in groups of three at one blooming, creating a showy, gorgeous blossoming, that almost covers the rosette below for its width. The blooming season occurs in late Autumn or early Winter and the flowers end up in forming greenish, globose fruits.
Ariocarpus trigonus is a rather slow-growing plant, but it’s not difficult to cultivate.
Put it in full sun or partial shade, as it’s tolerant to all kinds of expositions. Choose a well-draining substrate, rich in mineral elements and with very little organic matter, and water it regularly during the vegetative season, decreasing the frequency during Autumn, to suspending competely any irrigation in Winter. It can survive at temperatures until -10ºC, as long as its substrate is maintained completely dry. The main threat to its survival, in fact, is root rot: if you avoid this danger, it will thrive and reward you with its gorgeous blossoming! During the vegetative season, you could add some low-nitrogen fertilizer to help its growth. Never fertilize, however, in Autumn and Winter.
Propagation is usually carried out through seed or grafting. Grafting is more frequently used as it ensures fast growth, as individuals grown from seeds can take about 7-10 years to adquire the flowering capacity and size.
Ariocarpus, plants so rare to be threatened of extinction, were known by Indian tribes under the name of chaute (glue) which obtained the material to glue clay pots.
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