Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Two-month old seedlings of Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis" CR137, seeds probably from the population I've been visiting since November.
A young plant of Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis" in the most northeasterly known population, growing in the usual situation: out in the open on weathered granite, on a slightly south facing slope.
A very old Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis", with uncommon branching near the base.
Echinomastus erectocentrus "erectocentrus" in southeast AZ. Some students of these plants see the "acunensis" population above as an intergrading form, with certain characteristics of "acunensis" and other characteristics of "erectocentrus." The type location of Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis" is about 150 miles from the above population and in the somewhat more dry and warmer Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Echinomastus johnsonii "lutescens", backlit by sunset, in more northwestern AZ. Some students of cacti see Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis" and E. johnsonii as "hardly distinguishable." In some ways, I can see why. But the plants seem rather distinct to me. Of course, some botanists have eliminated the entire genus Echinomastus, adding all of the plants that were in it to Sclerocactus. I don't think this will be accepted over the long haul.
Spine clusters from Echinomastus erectocentrus "acunensis" (L) and Echinomastus johnsonii "lutescens" (R).
It's a strange experience, going out to hunt for these obscure, well-camouflaged and somewhat remote plants. A lot of the time is spent scouring the ground with one's vision, looking for little color and texture anomalies that are the clues to the plants' presence. Periodically, you look up and see things like this: