Cereus schottii var. australis
Lophocereus schottii f. spiralis
Lophocereus schottii var. tenuis
L. schottii is native to Arizona and Mexico Northwest. The plant grows in the desert regions, in gravelly plains and in rocky hillsides where it can spread up to 800 m of altitude.
L. schottii is a rare succulents belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an ascending habit and branches from the base. The cactus can reach up to 6 m in height and 12 cm in diameter in optimal conditions but remain smaller in the southern California where can get frosts on the flat sites. The stem is arranged in 6-8 distinct ribs, greyish-green in color and it is covered with a waxy bloom on the surface. The areoles are white wool, placed in the bottom part of the plant and bear the spines. In the mature plants the spines on the apex are 20, sharp, 10 cm long and grey in color. Blooming occurs in late spring to the winter and blossom are borne in the apical part of the stems. The flowers are nocturnal, light pink inside and greenish white outside and last for a few hours. The pollination is carried out by a pyralid moth, Upiga virescens, which lays its eggs in the flowers. The larvae feed on the fruits. The flowers to attract pollinators emit an unpleasant smell. The fruits are edible, rounded, spineless red in color. The black seeds are shiny and small.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 6° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. 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. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. 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. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting 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. 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 soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
This genus includes only one species, Lophocereus schottii. According to some classifications, it should fall within the genus Pachycereus. The forma mostruosa is a natural mutation that occurred in the L. schottii population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively.
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