Contents of the Spring 2012 Northants News

                    Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred'                                       Doug Rowland


Ed: I have been exhorting members to write of their favourite Mammillaria. Little did I realise that the first offering was going to be something so extreme! Thanks Doug.

Very little has been written about this cultivar, so I decided to change all that. Let us start at the beginning. The plant has been known for over 30 years, and has never been found in the wild. It is said to have been produced as an aberrant cristate and monstrose offset from a normal plant of Mammillaria bocasana and propagated in the USA by a collector called Fred. Whether this is strictly true or not is debatable, but it is a nice story. Fred appears to be more common in the USA than in Europe, plants here being few and far between. I saw no plants at Cactus Gem Nursery in San Jose, but found a large size 18” diameter one growing at the Dan Bach Nursery in Tucson amongst elderly Melocactus with cephalia resembling small chimneys.

Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred'

Doug’s plant of Mammillaria bocasana ‘Fred’

Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred'

Plants are very variable, clustering, forming clumps, producing many bodies and varying in size according to time of year, shrinking to about ˝ “ diameter or less in winter whilst resting, and often reaching twice that size when growing in summer. Bodies are usually smooth and reddish, pinkish or green with a few fine hairs emanating from the small areoles. Some heads being monstrose others cristate. Plants prefer part shading and if left too long in the sun the bodies will turn red. At one time unlabelled plants were difficult to identify, but on less common occasions a plant of Fred would produce just one normal Mammillaria bocasana offset from the clump, so could be easily identified. A further cultivar with a pinkish red body has recently become available and is known to collectors and enthusiasts as cv Red Fred.

Flowers, whitish, are seldom produced and when they are, usually abort.

Propagation is as it has always been from detached heads, which sometimes rot off or dry up before rooting can begin. But the species is now being generally and successfully propagated and grafted plants are occasionally offered from continental nurseries, these plants are difficult to transplant on to their own roots, where they do best and form spreading clumps.


After we published Doug’s article on 'Fred' I saw his American cousin growing in Don Campbell's exellent collection in Grand Junction, Colorado. You can see that this 'Fred' has largely reverted to plain, (boring), Mammillaria bocasana.

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