Astrophytum capricorne

Origin and Habitat: Northern Mexico (Coahuila) widespread in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Description: Solitary globose or columnar cactus.
Stem: Although young plants are globular, they soon become ovoid, and eventually columnar up to 1.2 m tall, 10 (15) cm in diameter. The epidermis of is more or less covered with the typical white woolly flecks characteristic of the genus.
Ribs: Usually 8.
Areoles: In vertical rows along each rib and
Spines: 5 to 10 up to 7 cm long, Grey to brown wired, twisted, curved, flattened that look like the horn of a Capricorn. As plant ages spines get a bit more intense and messier, but relatively sparse, they are stiff but pliable and fragile, so, plant should be handled with care.
Flowers: Sweet smelling 7.5 cm wide, yellow with a red center.
Blooming season: Blooms in summer.
Fruit: Reddish covered with flattened spines, 2.5 cm in diameter.

Camouflage: The fine spines of this species are an optical artifice supporting the grass-mimicry to the surroundings.

Notes: Astrophytum capricorne was described at the year 1851 from Dr. Albert DIETRICH as Echinocatus capricornis. In 1922 BRITTON and ROSE recombined this genus to Astrophytum.

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Cultivation and Propagation: It is a popular summer-growing species of relatively easy cultivation.
Growth rate: Slow-growing.
Soil: Grow it in an open standard, sandy-gritty cactus compost and provide a very good drainage.
Exposure: It is suited for sunny-brightly exposure, but can tolerate light shade. However it will do its best with lots of sun and become stressed with inadequate light which could result in poor growth and unnatural shape. It has a good heat tolerance.
Watering: Water regularly (about once a week) during the growing season and keep it completely dry during winter or when night temperatures remain below 50°F (10°C). Water it less than average if in bigger pots.
Fertilization: Feed them once during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertilizer to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.
Special need: It is suited for airy exposures. Provide very good ventilation. Nearly all problems occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid. ere.
Hardiness: It likes warmth, recommended minimum winter temperature 41°F (5°C). But plants kept perfectly dry can easily survive to light frost. It is reported hardy to 16°F (-9°C) for brief periods.
Pests & diseases: These cacti may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the plants from above.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new leaves and flowers with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales, thrips and aphids: These insects are rarely a problem.
- Rot: Rot is only a minor problem if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: It can be propagated easily from seed (seldom produces offsets). The seeds can be sown in pots of fine, well-drained sandy soil, any time during the spring when temperatures are warm. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit and water from below with a fungicide to prevent damping off. For the 1-2 weeks cover the pots with a sheet of glass/clear perspex to keep the humidity levels high. Remove the glass and replace it with light shade-cloth and mist once or twice a day for the next two weeks after which most seeds should have germinated. From then on mistings can be reduced to every second and then every third day as the little plants grow. The seedlings should not be disturbed until they are well rooted after which they can be planted separately in small pots. Sometimes it is grafted to avoid root rot problems as plants grafted on an hardy stock are easy to grow and no special skill is required.

"Astrophytum capricorne" Text available under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution License. 14 Nov. 2005. 07 Mar 2021. </Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/3564/Astrophytum_capricorne>

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