Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Couple More Baja Plants

This is a short post to mention a couple of Baja plants that I want to highlight.

The first is Mammillaria albicans. This cactus is blooming like crazy right now (October). It is a lovely little species from Baja California Sur. As shown in the photo below, it has very white spines which are very light reflective, a useful adaptation for desert species. (Many of the spines are dark tipped, especially at the top of the cactus where the new growth is found). Like all Mammillarias, this one doesn't get very large, up to about 8 inches in height. Mine is a young, single stem specimen, but older ones in the wild develop multiple stems and form large clumps. The stems can also develop numerous round wart-like bumps. The flowers are obviously quite showy, and when conditions are right it will put out a lot of them. The flower is followed by a typical red fruit. This cactus came from Grigsby Cactus Garden in Vista.

The second plant I want to mention is a totally new one for me, Jatropha vernicosa. Like other Jatrophas, it is in the Euphorbia family and develops into a small tree or large shrub. Unlike Jatropha cinerea, which I have had in my garden for a couple of years, J. vernicosa is endemic to Baja Sur and has very shiny leaves that are thin and almost transluscent. J. cinerea leaves by contrast are somewhat thick and leathery, as shown in the bottom two photos. I have both of these Jatrophas in containers so that I can control their size. I bought this Jatropha mail order from Arid Lands Nursery in Tucson. It was shipped bare-root. I immediately but it in damp soil and it only lost one leaf. Rather amazing. When I planted it in the large pot, I dusted the roots with rooting hormone and used a standard fast-draining soil mix. Since then it has put out new growth very rapidly.