Contents of the Spring 2015 Northants News
The Monkey Tail Cactus Trevor Wray
plant was introduced in the 1960s but not described until 2003; so quite a
It was first described as Hildewintera polonica by V. Foik & Foik but that didn’t work taxonomically, (which is a pity because I rather like the idea of a ‘Polish’ cactus.).
same year it was validly published as Hildewintera
Diers & Krahn, Though I am sure you knew that ‘polonica’
was Polish, I bet you didn’t know ‘colademononis’
was monkey-tail. Oh, you did! I learned from the ISI info (it was
distributed as ISI 2007-3) that the Spanish vernacular
(meaning monkey’s tail) was applied by residents of the Bolivian town of
Samaipata who first brought the species into cultivation from its nearby
Anyway, an apt name for a beautiful plant.
2005 David Hunt changed the name to Cleistocactus
It is well known that Cleistocactus go up but in this case they can hang
down as well. At least Hilde Winter still gets a mention.
plant is easy to grow; mine has suffered a few incursions into the frost zone.
New off-sets sprout vigorously from the crown and are quickly rooted as cuttings
during the growing season. I recommend it as a hanging basket plant where it
carries its striking red flowers all summer.
Root Mealy Bugs in School Sue Murfin
email correspondence with a lady who wrote seeking a Disocactus (Aporocactus)
cutting had two happy conclusions. She got the cuttings and we got this ‘How I
started’. Read on...
I started off on cacti with an Opuntia microdasys when I was about 14 - I got interested because some years before I had been given some notepaper with a cartoon picture of a little black girl standing by what I took to be some balls she was dropping, though it always puzzled me a bit. (The balls weren't actually joined up in the picture) I 'd never seen a cactus (well, you didn't in the late 40's...).
Left:: They look harmless but novices soon learn to treat the tiny glochids on Opuntia microdasys with respect.
When I saw a real one
for sale some years later I had to have it! I soon learned how to take glochids
out of my fingers with elastoplasts; we didn't have sellotape in our house in
I used to haunt
Woolworths after school, looking for bits that had dropped off the ones they
were selling and taking them home to root. In one English lesson at school we
all had to give a short talk on a subject of our choice and I well remember the
reaction when I started talking about root mealy bug!
I soon joined the
NCSS, as it was then. It was great, as the older gentlemen members were willing
to show a young girl round their greenhouses and give her cuttings... I couldn't
have been a day over 15.
I entered the
society's show in Sheffield after a few years and won a prize for a
Rhipsalidopsis which obligingly flowered at the right time and one for a pot of
Gosh the trouble we
went to with that compost, you couldn't buy cactus compost in those days. I used
to crush up broken plant pots for grit and for the seedlings my Mum sterilised
the soil for me in the oven. How times change.
let me keep my collection on a table in the bay window of her bedroom, and soak
them all in the bath on watering day... I never appreciated what it must have
cost her. I used to hanker after a really big Echinocactus
grusonii - dream on,
I had no money and no greenhouse...All I have left now from all those plants is
a very worse for wear epiphyllum and one of the old Christmas cacti, before all
the lovely modern hybrids came out. (A friend has given me two of those...) I
still don't have a greenhouse though, it is too windy here, but I enjoy my
largish garden and have a modest collection of hardy fuchsias.
Thanks Sue, That
certainly brings back memories and it is amazing how often Woolworths features
in early cactus recollections. I vaguely remembered that cartoon as well and
started an image web-search; ‘girl, opuntia and cartoon’ produced some
curious sites, (or sights), not all suitable for family viewing. While
‘prickly pear cartoon’ produced a website of cactus tattoos which were
really tasteful, (for tattoos that is). Search ‘cactus tattoos’ for a must
have for cactus freaks. The FL says I can’t have one! Not ever. Oh well…