Coryphantha elephantidens is native to Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast and Mexico Southwest where the plant grows in grasslands and xerophyllous scrub and can spread up to 2000 m of altitude.
Coryphantha elephantidens is a perennial cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant is solitary but over time can cluster at the base and can reach up to 15 cm in diameter and 20 cm in height. The stem is globose, apically depressed, glossy dark green in color, made of tubercles. The tubercles are prominent, large, rounded and densely woolly. The roots are fibrous, large and succulent. The 5-8 radial spines are yellowish with black tips, 1-2 cm long, radiating, appressed to the body, stout and needle-like. The central spines are absent. Blooming occurs from the late summer to the early autumn and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the stem. The flowers are large, showy, up to 11 cm wide, sweet scented, funnel-shaped, pale pink to pale yellow with a yellow throat and yellow stamens. The fruits are big, long, greenish yellow and juicy containing brown seeds.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light during the summer. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The plant does not like temperatures below 5°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. In Spring and Autumn, the plant can be watered with half a glass of water every week; in summer it can be watered with two glasses of water a week; in winter stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
This is a genus with a globular shape, stands out from other similar genres for the position of the flowers that grow exactly on the top of the plant. Its name has in fact this meaning: it comes from Greek koryphé (peak) and Anthos (flower). The epithet ‘elephantidens’ comes from Latin and means ‘elephant tooth’ and describes the fang-like spines of this species.
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