Myrtillocalycium “Polyp”


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Chimeras are present only in nurseries or come from tissue culture studies, they thus don’t exist in nature. Myrtillocalycium “Polyp” is a chimera obtained by a grafting of a Gymnocalycium freidrichii cv. Red Hibotan. on a Myrtillocactus cochal. Myrtillocactus cochal is native to Mexico, while G. freidrichii cv. Red Hibotan is from North-Western Paraguay. The two plants end up to form one body in which, however, the cell tissues of the two species remain separate.


In botany, a Chimera is an organism in which two different genotypes are both present. This happens because, sometimes, in the bud formation, a genetic mutation occurs and a group of mutated cells develop beside the normal ones, isolated from them, so that two types of cell, with a different DNA, coexist in the same plant, in neatly separate tissues. This is an incredible phenomenon in biology: it’s as if we had a bunch of cells of some other person in our body growing beside ours in separated cellular tissues! This phenomenon can cause many different effect on plant growth: from the absence of Chloroplasts, that implies the presence of yellow or red parts of the plant, to an irregular, strange growth habits, depending on the kind of bud and on the kind of gene afflicted by the mutation. The curious fact is that the groups of cells with different genotypes coexist permitting the normal life of the plant, giving to it an unusual appearance which make it sometimes amazing, sometimes weird, but unique in any case. Given their unique biological structure, chimeras are really rare and sought after. In addiction, in fact, every chimera is different: two equal chimeras can’t exist, because the genetic mutation can produce different effects on the appearance of the plant, depending on the species involved and the type of mutation.
In the case of Myrtillocalycium “Polyp”, as we already said above, there isn’t a casual genetic mutation: instead, the coexistence of the different cell tissues is due to the grafting. Only, instead of producing an individual with the appearance of a grafted plant, with the scion and rootstock remaining clearly separated, in the case of M. ‘Polyp’, we produce a chimera that looks like a strange “fusion” of the two plants.
Myrtillocalycium “Polyp” is quite an unstable chimera and has a tendency to form some Gymnocalycium red shoots at the top of its stem. Its aspect is very odd: it can be a seven-ribboned cacti, green, quite lumpy, with bright red irregular spots or areas depending on the individual. Often, on the regular stems, lumpy and deformed parts are present, in which ribs, areoles and spines become unrecognizable. These parts are completely red or pinkish. They can be also yellowish: the colour range is actually variable, however green is usually absent because these altered parts of the stem often become uncapable to produce chloroplasts and thus don’t possue chlorophyll and can’t be green.


Regarding the cultivation tecnique, you’ll have to follow the instructions valid for the rootstock, which is usually M. cochal. Here below are our cultivation tips:

Put it in light shade when young and place it in a bright spot later, when it reaches maturity. The passage should be gradual, so that the stems aren’t damaged.
This plant fears cold: never leave it below 10ºC. In Winter it is thus better to put it indoors.
Watering should be regular in Summer, as long as you wait for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation (once a week should be ok). In Autumn, gradually decrease the watering frequency (once every two months) until stopping completely to water in Winter.
Choose a very well drained soil, like the one you would pick up for any other cacti. Unlike other cacti, however, M. Polyp requires a substrate richer in organic matter.
Repot every year or any time the plant outgrows its pot.
They do not need a frequent fertilization: it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year.


The propagation of M. Polyp is possible only through asexual methods: being the result of a genetic mutation, in fact, this plant is sterile. In particular, a possibility is to use cuttings, to be taken off in summer (they put roots only in hot weather), or grafting.


A “Chimera”, in mythology, is a monster composed of body parts of different animals. And also, in botany, it is a “monster” composed of parts of different plants!

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