Echinocactus grusonii f. cristatus
Common Name: crested golden barrel cactus, crested mother-in-law’s cushion, crested golden ball cactus
Origin: The traditional Echinocactus grusonii is native to central Mexico, being found in the Rio Moctezuma Valley (5). In the wild Echinocactus grusonii is found on rocky volcanic slopes, and while it is abundant in cultivation, it is endangered in habitat (9,10,11). The construction of a dam has made the traditional golden barrel cactus critically endangered in its native habitat, with as few as 50 remaining in the wild (13). The genus name “echinocactus” is a combination of the Greek word “echinos” meaning “hedgehog”, and “cactus”, with the specific epithet “grusonii” being honored after the German engineer Hermann Jacques Gruson (1821-1895) (9,11,12). Gruson had a special interest in desert plants and built the famous Gruson Greenhouses where he amassed the largest collection of cacti in Europe (12).
Description: Echinocactus grusonii f. cristatus is a rare, crested form of the traditional Echinocactus grusonii, which is a large globular barrel cactus (1,6). This crested form has an irregular shape, having a wavy cristate growth formation (1,2,6,8). The stem is a pale green coloration and grows to heights of 6-18 inches (1,2,5,6,7). This plants stem is heavily ribbed, with very densely packed golden spines (1,4,6,7). The spines are long and sharp, and they can be straight or have a slight curvature (7). The bright yellow spines are radially positioned on numerous areolas (1,5,6,7,9). The flowers are diurnal and yellow in coloration, roughly 1-3 inches wide, and are somewhat inconspicuous given their small size in relation to the stem, as well as being concealed by dense spine coverage and apex wool (1,3,5,6,7). The fruits are globular in shape with a greenish coloration, containing many tiny brown seeds (9). This plant can produce offsets at maturity (2,5).
Cultivation and Care: