Strombocactus disciformis f. crested


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Strombocactus disciformis f. crested is a nursery variety and doesn’t occur in the wild. The regular species, Strombocactus disciformis, is instead native to Mexico, where is typically found growing on steep limestone cliffs and slopes within the matorral habitat, as well as on nearly vertical canyon walls and mudrock alluvial cliffs along stream beds. Unfortunately, illegal collection of this cactus for the ornamental plant trade poses an increasingly significant threat to its survival.


The crested form of Strombocactus disciformis is very rare and sought after by succulent collectors. Crested varieties are the result of a phenomenon known as “Fasciation,” which is a rare abnormal growth condition that can occur in many plant species, resulting particularly frequent in cacti. This condition occurs when the apical meristem, or the cellular tissues of other vegetative and flowering buds, produce new cells in only two directions, causing a flattened or elongated appearance. This phenomenon turns normal stems into flattened ones, which can grow into a fan, a ridge, a wedge, a crest, or can form brain-like structures depending on the specimen. Every crested form is in fact unique, because the phenomenon seem to be related to a genetic mutation, that can produce a wde variety of convoluted, strange stem shapes. In particular, in Strombocactus disciformis f. crested, the stem is fan-shaped and creates brain-like mounds over time. The crown of the stem is slightly depressed and felted, with a blue-green color and a greyish tinge. The base of the stem is covered with brown corky spots as it ages. The stem is made up of hard, imbricate tubercles that are 1 to 1.8 cm high. These tubercles are flattened and almost truncated above and somewhat horny or keeled below. The cactus has 4 to 5 erect spines that are dark grey at the tips and pale grey at the base. These spines are 1.2 to 2 cm long and become calcified. They are caducous and fall at the stem base as the plant ages. The roots of Strombocactus disciformis are strong and napiform, resembling a turnip. The flowers of this cactus arise on the crown and are shiny cream-colored with occasional spots at the tip and in the throat. The filaments are white or reddish, and the anthers are yellow. The 8 to 10 lobed stigma is white or yellowish. The fruit is 7 mm across and splits down its length, while the seeds are very small. This cactus blooms early in spring, and its flowers are freely produced throughout the summer, remaining open for several days.


The crested form is more difficult to grow than the regular one, but, by paying a little more attention, it is very rewarding.

To keep your Strombocactus disciformis f. crested healthy, make sure it’s planted in well-draining soil with not too much organic matter (like peat or humus). It needs a lot of sunshine, but not too much water – just enough to keep it from getting too long and floppy. Plants grown in a shady area should be gradually acclimated to brighter conditions before being exposed to full sun. This gradual transition is necessary because the plant can suffer severe sunburn if moved too quickly from a shady to a sunny location. From March to October, only water it a little bit, and let it stay completely dry in the winter when it gets really cold. Some authours suggest to give it a tiny bit of water every month during the winter to keep it from losing its lower parts. It can handle temperatures down to -4°C for a little bit, but don’t let it get too humid – it needs good air flow!


The propagation typically occurs by grafting. Sowing is not possible, either because crested forms tend to produce seeds with some difficulties, and because the eventual seed wouldn’t necessarily give birth to a crested plant (spoiler: they probably won’t!), but they will form a normal specimen of Strombocactus disciformis.


The genus name “Strombocactus” comes from the Greek word “strombos,” which means “a twisted object,” referring to the twisted and curved shape of the plant’s tubercles. The species name “disciformis” is derived from the Latin word “discus,” meaning “a circular flat object,” and “forma,” meaning “shape,” referring to the disc-shaped form of the plant. So, the name “Strombocactus disciformis” roughly translates to “twisted, disc-shaped cactus.”

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