Habitat: The Caribbean and Florida.
Cultivation: Easy. Plenty of light, scarce watering, mild temperatures and a well-draining substrate will do well.
Curiosity: Its name was chosen in honor of Michelangelo Consul, an important Italian botanist.
Consolea is a genus of plant belonging to the family of Cactaceae, native to the Caribbean and Florida and including 10 accepted species.
Its natural habitats are usually dry, litoral forests and xerophyllous scrubs, where they grow on limestone soils, at variable altitudes depending on the species. Where it occurs, it tends usually to be abundant, where it occurs.
They are peculiar cacti, as they have flattened stems, similar to the ones of Opuntias. Consoleas are in fact similar to Opuntias, so that there is still confusion about the classification of some species.
They are shrubby cactus, forming bushes or little trees, very branched and reaching 5 meters in height in their natural habitat.
Their flattened, oval leaves are called cladodes. The Cladodes are modified stems, able to carry out the photosynthesis, typical of Opuntias but also of Consoleas. Unlike Opuntias, however, Consoleas have a flat and elongated main stem, from which the rounded and flattened cladodes branch off. Opuntias, instead, don’t have a main stems, and behave more like bushes.
These plants are often equipped with dense and rather dangerous spines, which the plant has developed to defend itself in its native places; other species, on the other hand, are completely and unexpectedly spineless. The spines sprout from white areoles, abundant and regularly distributed all along their stem. Often, these areoles are located at the top of green tubercles.
Consolea’s flowers are really beautiful and fleshy. They’re usually solitary and their colour is reddish, orange or yellow and sprout at the top of the stems.
Fruits, edible in many species, are usually oval and orange. Their dimension depend on the species.
VARIETY AND TYPES
There are 10 accepted species of Consoleas. Here below they are:
- C. acaulis
- C. corallicola
- C. falcata
- C. macracantha
- C. millspaughii
- C. moniliformis
- C. nashii
- C. rubescens
- C. spinosissima
- C. urbaniana
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TIPS FOR GROWING
Consoleas are particularly appreciated also because they’re easy to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:
- It likes an exposure to full sun in rather airy locations.
- It is preferable to keep it at mild temperatures and never below 3 °C, so it’s better to shelter it during the winter period.
- Water moderately and only when the soil is completely dry. It is enough to water it once a week in spring and summer, reduce it to once every two months in autumn and to suspend it completely in winter.
- The best soil should be well-draining, for example formed by a mix of peat and pumice so that water does not stagnate.
- They do not need frequent fertilization, it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year.
- Repotting is necessary every spring, when their roots become cramped. Generally, they should be repotted every year in order to provide fresh soil. After repotting, do not water for a week or more.
The most used propagation method is th division of the stems. The cladodes, in fact, when detached from the other stems, easily root if planted in a well-drained soil.