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Cacti from seed to flowering plant
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Cactusdave



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
Posts: 1619
Location: Bromley, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:15 am    Post subject: Cacti from seed to flowering plant Reply with quote

As promised in nanometer's thread some of my old cactus pictures.

We should start with the seed. The first picture shows a ripe seed pod of a Gymnocalycium species splitting and the seeds peeping out ready to harvest. This is a nice fleshy, juicy seed pod, attractive for something to carry off in the wild and disperse the seeds. Taken with a Canon 100mm F2.8 L IS macro lens. Natural light.



Next the seed itself. Cacti seeds are as diverse in their size, appearance and surface sculpting as any other dicot. This picture shows the rather large seed of a Ferobergia. An intergeneric hybrid of a Ferocactus species with Leuchtenbergia principis. Photo taken with a X6.3 Ultropak incident light objective on a Leitz Ortholux. Coaxial incident lighting. Stack of 12 images.




Next we come to the seedlings. As nanometer has said, cacti are dicots and have two seed leaves. The more evolutionarily primitive the Genus of cactus, the more obvious are these seed leaves as a rule. In some cases the seed leaves are vestigial to say the least.





In some cases the seedlings are exceedingly minute, smaller than a match head, and growing under lights in a sealed bag is pretty much essential to success . Seedlings may need to stay in the same sealed bag for more than a year.





More to follow showing how these minute seedlings develop into plants and eventually flower. Growing cacti to flowering size from seed varies from slow (2years) to ultra-zen (10 plus years Laughing ) its not for the impatient or faint hearted. A bit like microscopy really. Laughing
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Rudi



Joined: 23 Oct 2014
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Location: Temse, Belgium

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting to me as this brings back old memories. As a young lad,
I used to grow quiet a few cacti from seed. I had no camera that time.
So no foto-documentation.
Can you put some names with the seedlings ?
Probably I will be way off with guessing for some names, but I try anyway: Mammillaria theresae (4th picture right side). Last picture, lophophora or
Aztekium, iff it is aztekium, I wonder how old they are ?
Anyway, nice healthy seedlings.
Looking forward to the next.
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nanometer



Joined: 30 Apr 2016
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Location: Tucson, AZ

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great stuff. Just for the record it was Chris R who made the dicot statement. I'm too ignorant of plants to make such a statement Smile

I don't really follow pic #3. Is each green ball having multiple seedlings coming out? This process seems to look completely different than the saguaro.

Steve
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
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Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 2:51 am    Post subject: Re: Cacti from seed to flowering plant Reply with quote

nanometer wrote:
Just for the record it was Chris R you made the dicot statement.

Steve

While it little matters other than to avoid confusion, it was I (Chris S.) who brought up that cactus species are dicots, not ChrisR.

Cactusdave wrote:
The more evolutionarily primitive the Genus of cactus, the more obvious are these seed leaves as a rule. In some cases the seed leaves are vestigial to say the least.

Dave, thanks for these interesting images!Very Happy

I see what you mean about the seed leaves ("cotyledons") being vestigial. If you'd photographed your seedlings at an even younger stage, would we have been able to see the seed leaves at all? If your images represent the earliest appearance of the seedlings, one would hardly be able to tell that these plants are dicots.

Cheers,

--Chris
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Cactusdave



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
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Location: Bromley, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, a few questions to answer there.

Rudi, your seedling identification skills are excellent! From the top, the bright green seedlings are Mammillaria hernandezii, the double sown tray has Ariocarpus confusus on the left and Mammillaria theresae on the right. The first of the pair of really tiny seedlings is Aztekium ritteri and underneath is Aztekium hintonii. These latter two are notorious for minute seeds, minute seedlings and very slow growth. The seedlings of the two Aztekiums are about a year old!

Nanometer, each little round ball is a single seedling. The young spines are beginning to appear from the growing centre in the apex of the 'ball'. The spines on the mature plant look like this:




Chris,
Quote:
If you'd photographed your seedlings at an even younger stage, would we have been able to see the seed leaves at all? If your images represent the earliest appearance of the seedlings, one would hardly be able to tell that these plants are dicots.


The seedlings of Aztekium ritteri ringed in red present a 'just germinated' appearance pretty much. I agree hard to tell these are dicots without micro-dissection!


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Cactusdave



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some cactus seedlings reach flowering size in 18 months to 2 years, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Mammillaria sanchez-mejoradae is an example of extreme precocity! Just 18 months after sowing and barely 2cm in diameter, buds are forming in the Spring.



A little sunshine, some water, and this is the reward.




Some cactus seedlings look unimpressive from the top, but underneath something serious is going on! A huge tap root is forming to allow the seeding the best chance to survive a serious drought. These seedlings are Eriosyce (Neoporteria) napina from the Atacama desert region of Chile where long periods without rain are not exactly unknown. Laughing


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nanometer



Joined: 30 Apr 2016
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Location: Tucson, AZ

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That tap root is very instructive as it implies I may not have my saguaros planted in a deep enough dish! Thanks also for clarifying the pictures above.

Sorry to Chris S for messing up above.
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Cactusdave



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That tap root is very instructive as it implies I may not have my saguaros planted in a deep enough dish!


There are two strategies used by cacti to cope with lack of rainfall. Eriosyce napina uses the strategy of storing water when it comes, in a deeply growing, fleshy taproot. This strategy is quite common among cacti, particularly among Genera that grow in the most arid environments such as the pacific coast of Chile north of Copiapo and in some parts of Mexico and the Southern USA. This is not the strategy adopted by the saguaro, Carnegiea gigantea, this adopts the strategy of having an extensive shallow root around the plant which quickly takes up any rain when it comes and stores it not in the root, but in the body of the cactus itself. This strategy is also common amongst desert dwelling cacti, and results in a distinctive large columnar or barrel shape suited to water storage. So no your Carnegiea seedlings won't form a tap root and don't need an especially deep pot. In fact the more shallow root space you give them the quicker they will grow. That of course still isn't exactly quick. Laughing

Those Eriosyce napina seedlings I showed with the impressive tap root and the tiny above soil growth were deliberately grown in conditions that mimicked the natural environment of the plant. That is low nutrient, very free draining mineral compost and fairly infrequent water soakings. Under these conditions the plant can spend many years developing a tap root before embarking on more top growth. If the same seedlings are grown with more nutrients and rather more water, a tap root will still form but there will be more and quicker top growth so that the plant will reach flowering size far quicker.

It is a mistake to think of cacti as solely desert plants of the New World. Though there are many Genera and species adapted to desert conditions, cacti can be found in grasslands, and even a few Genera such as Rhipsalis as epiphytes in rainforest, exactly like the epiphytic orchids. Of course this is still an environment where there can be water stress. Some cacti can withstand severe cold including freezing ,but it must be dry cold. Cacti cannot stand having their roots permanently wet, whether it is warm wet or cold wet.
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nanometer



Joined: 30 Apr 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info on roots. Still learning. That means I don't have to worry about transplanting them for another few years Smile
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Cactusdave



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When, after a few years, seedlings get to this size it begins to get exciting. When will they flower?

Mammillaria deherdtiana v. dodsonii



If we are impatient, one way to speed things up a little is to graft a seedling onto a rather quicker growing and robust cactus stock like an Opuntia sp. That seems to have done the trick!



Of course you are wondering what happened with those minute Aztekium ritteri seedlings. Well here they are 15 years later still in the same tray. Very Happy


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Rudi



Joined: 23 Oct 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are doing an excellent job with those species...Mam. theresae and Aztekium are not the easiest to grow, well it was the case in my time ... Laughing
I remember Aztekium very well, tiny seeds, 'easy, good' germinating, but dying oh so quickly in the first months....we got better with practise though. We used to graft a lot off them.
A few from my oldest specimens (sown in 1978 I believe), are with a good friend. I will make a few pictures when we visit him in the summer .
So, now I am 'expecting' high magnification cacti pictures Wink Wink
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Beatsy



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating thread Dave. Looking forward to the next installment(s).
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Lou Jost



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now I know why you call yourself Cactus Dave. Great info, very interesting. Thanks! By the way I sometimes find those epiphytic cactus you mentioned in our rain forests. Flat-stemmed ones and also round-stemmed Rhipsalis.
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Cactusdave



Joined: 09 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rudi- I wish all my plants looked as good as that now. Most of these pictures are 2-5years old. Some of my nicer plants, like you, I gave to a friend, rather than see them suffer from enforced neglect.

Thanks for kind comments in this thread.

I said I would show some pictures of the more benign insect visitors to my plants. Mostly bees and flies of course. Then maybe I'll show some macros of spines, some of them are really remarkable and beautiful.

The first image shows bees visiting the flowers of Trichocereus pasacana, a cultivated specimen outside a hostel I stayed in in Uquia, Northern Argentina, on a cactus trip I made in November 2008.



In my garden and greenhouse back home, I seem to mainly get bumblebees visiting. The first one is on flowers of Rebutia (Aylostera) heliosa.




This bumblebee has taken a fancy to Eriosyce (Neoporteria) napina.



My final bumblebee is deep into Mammillaria theresae.



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Cactusdave



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flies also seem to like resting and sunning themselves on cacti. Here we have the power of three!



While this one poses for a real close up.



Sometimes someone a little prettier calls.

[img]

Where there is prey there are predators, especially in the greenhouse which is full of spiders.


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