What would you like to know about Melocactus?

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Marlon Machado
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What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Marlon Machado » Wed Oct 17, 2007 9:54 am

Hello,

First a brief introduction to myself: my name is Marlon Machado, I am from the state of Bahia in Brazil, but currently I live in Zurich, Switzerland, where I am doing my PhD whose subject is the systematics of Parodia subgen. Notocactus. I have been fascinated by cacti from childhood. My father owns a farm and in there grows a number of native species of cacti. I think that seeing these bizarre plants in their natural surroundings as a kid marked me profoundly, and I fell in love with cacti since then. I started cultivating cacti some seventeen years ago. But my curiosity about these plants was not satisfied by just growing them. At that time I had very little information about the native species of cacti, and I wanted to learn more about them. I started traveling in the field to see these plants growing in habitat, and before I knew it the study of cacti became my profession :) now I am a botanist specialized in the taxonomy and systematics of cacti.

When I moved from Brazil to Switzerland, I had to give away or sell the majority of my collection. The only plants that remained at my home in Brazil were Pilosocereus and other cereoid species - these are planted outside in big containers, some in the ground, and they need minimal care - nature tends to them, and my parents give the plants some water when the weather is dry and hot for extended periods of time.

But of course, I could not live here in Switzerland without some cacti. But because of the limited space in my windowsill, I had to specialize: I have in my windowsill 28 small Ariocarpus, 26 small Astrophytum, nine Aztekium ritteri, and a handfull of other things, including a few Euphorbia and caudificorms.

Well, enough of introduction. I started this thread because I have a few questions for you: how many of you grow Melocactus? What attracts you to the plants of this genus? What would you like to know about them?

The reason for these questions is because I am currently writing an article about the genus Melocactus in Eastern Brazil for the journal, and I would like to have some input about what you would like to read about this genus.

Of course the articles (I am planning it to be a series of four) will have plenty of nice pictures accompanying them. Here is a little taster of what is coming in the journal in the next few months. [size=large]Note: The pictures below are just thumbnails, click on them to see a larger image:[/size]


Melocactus azureus from the type locality, Jussara, Bahia:


Melocactus azureus from another location, Rio Verde, Bahia, where the plants are much bigger:


Young plants of Melocactus bahiensis subsp. amethystinus (left) and Melocactus ernestii (right, the form described as M. azulensis) at Itaobim, Minas Gerais:


Melocactus bahiensis at Rio de Contas, Bahia:


Melocactus concinnus (left) and Melocactus conoideus (right) growing together at the type locality of the latter, Vit?ria da Conquista, Bahia:


Melocactus deinacanthus at the type locality, Ju?, Bahia:


Melocactus ernestii from Ipir?, Bahia:


Melocactus ernestii from Jequi?, Bahia, a larger growing form with sometimes very long (to 20cm) spines:


Melocactus ernestii from Jequi?, Bahia, a population growing in a rock outcrop overlooking a dam:


Melocactus ernestii from Itaobim, Minas Gerais, the form described as var. multicephalus - the cephalium in adult plants branch dichotomously, and it is a genetic characteristic:


Another plant of Melocactus ernestii from Itaobim, Minas Gerais, the form described as var. multicephalus - unfortunately this population have been wiped out by collectors:


Melocactus ernestii, a short spined form from Vit?ria da Conquista, Bahia:


Melocactus glaucescens from the type locality at Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus glaucescens from the type locality at Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Plant of Melocactus glaucescens of a new population I discovered a few years ago, with stronger and bigger spines than the type, at Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Plant of Melocactus inconcinnus, photographed at Sussuarana, Bahia:


Melocactus levitestatus from the type locality at Porto Novo, Bahia, one of the biggest species in the genus:


Another plant of Melocactus levitestatus from the type locality at Porto Novo, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus levitestatus from the type locality at Porto Novo, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus levitestatus from the type locality at Porto Novo, Bahia:


Melocactus levitestatus, the form described as var. securituberculatus, from Iui?, Bahia:


Melocactus levitestatus, the form described as M. warasii, bluish stems with hues of pink and yellow when the plant is stressed, photographed at the type locality at Serra do Ramalho, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus levitestatus, the form described as M. warasii, from the type locality at Serra do Ramalho, Bahia:


Plants of Melocactus oreas subsp. cremnophilus, at the type locality, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Melocactus oreas photographed near Milagres, Bahia:


Melocactus pachyacanthus, a species with very strong spines, photographed at Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


More plants of Melocactus pachyacanthus from Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


View of plants of Melocactus pachyacanthus growing in limestone plates, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Population of Melocactus pachyacanthus growing in limestone plates, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Melocactus paucispinus, a species that grows in sandy fields, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus paucispinus from Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Melocactus paucispinus from a locality I discovered near Piat?, Bahia:


Melocactus paucispinus from the type locality near Seabra, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus paucispinus from the type locality near Seabra, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus paucispinus from the type locality near Seabra, Bahia:


Another plant of Melocactus paucispinus from the type locality near Seabra, Bahia:


Melocactus violaceus subsp. margaritaceus, the smallest Melocactus species in Brazil, growing in coastal sandy dunes just north of Salvador, Bahia:


Melocactus zehntneri, the blue form described as M. douradaensis, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


Another plant of the blue form of Melocactus zehntneri, Morro do Chap?u, Bahia:


The giant form of Melocactus zehntneri described as M. giganteus, from Gentio do Ouro, Bahia:


Melocactus zehntneri, the form described as M. macrodiscus, from Brejinho das Ametistas, Bahia:



Well, I await for your comments.

All the best,
Marlon Machado.

Institute for Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Zollikerstrasse 107, CH-8008 Zurich, Switzerland.
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phil
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by phil » Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:07 am

Hi Marlon and a very warm welcome to the forum.
Thanks for sharing the photo's, it's always particularly interesting to see habitat plants.
I've grown one or two Melocacti over the years but without too much success as my greenhouse isn't over wintered at a sufficiently warm temperature. I know there will be some keen Melocacti growers out there that will be able to assist you and I'll look forward to reading your article in the Journal.
Phil. (Kent, England) BCSS Herne Bay & District Branch.
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by DaveW » Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:49 pm

Hi Marlon,

I certainly know your name and may have dropped across one of your sites in the past?

What would I like to know about Melocacti? For a start how to tell the species apart! The descriptions (and the plants) in many cases are so similar it is difficult to name them from the descriptions I find. Also, with few being grown in quantity over here you don't have many collectors nearby to compare plants with to name them. Unless you have a name on the plant when you get it, I find them hard to identify.

A decent key to the species would be very helpful.

DaveW
Nottingham Branch BCSS. Joined the then NCSS in 1961, Membership number 11944. Cactus only collection.
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Maria J » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:26 pm

:welc: to the forum Marlon!!
I don't currently have any Melos in my collection, and knowing very little about the Genus, anything would be of interest!!
Maria
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Tending more towards cacti :D, particularly Gymnocalyciums, Rebutias, Sulcorebutias, Echinopses, Thelos, Feros and Mamms (and anything else I like the look of!) all in an 8 x 6 polycarb greenhouse and a few windowsills!
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Chris in Leeds » Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:31 pm

Hi Marlon
Welcome to the forum
I dont have any Melos as I only have a greenhouse that is frost free in winter
Chris
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Trevor » Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:40 pm

Hello Marlon,

Welcome to the forum ! Beautiful photo's ! I enjoyed the Uebelmannia book that you put together with Rudolf Schulz. I know Rudolf from his nursery here and will be travelling with him in Chile in a few weeks time. It's a great book !

As for Melocacti, I haven't had huge success with them although I'm getting better having just got a couple through winter here. I'm also trying a number of species from seed and are currently nursing seedlings of M. melocactoides, deinacanthus, guitartii and violaceus. Germination was sporadic and it's early days yet, with more seed and other species yet to be sown, but so far it's gone fairly well. Any information specific to raising Melo's from seed would definitely be of interest. (And after seeing these photo's a few more names will go on my next seed order, I'm sure !)

I also agree with Dave as to the difficulties of identifying Melo's. As an example I bought a plant tagged as Melocactus azureus at a show last year. I knew it wasn't azureus as it lacked the powdery blue epidermis, but bought it as it was a nice clean plant and at that time I just wanted any Melo ! :) But now I have no idea what it is and don't like my chances of ever identifying it. It has yet to develop a cephalium so pretty much looks like every other Melo, at least to me anyway ! If there are identifying features specific to certain species, I'd certainly be interested in hearing them..

Anyway, thanks for all the work you've done (and are still doing) in the Cacti world. It's guys like yourself and Rudolf etc who do the hard work and write the books that increases our knowledge and helps us growers get the most enjoyment from our plants... Job well done !

Hope to see more of your photo's in the Journal and on this forum in the future!
Trevor
With a 'Downunder' collection of Cacti and Succulents in Melbourne, Australia.
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Dirk Everaerd » Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:13 pm

Hello Marlon !

This thread is so good that I did copy the link and putted it on a Flemisch phorum in Belgium !! I hope You dont mind !!
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Diane » Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:50 pm

Hi, Marlon!:welc: nice to have you with us. I think I met you when you gave a talk at Kingston branch a year or so ago (on Uebelmannias), look forward to your comments on this forum!
Diane - member of Kingston branch

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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by Cactus Jack » Wed Oct 17, 2007 5:15 pm

Hi Marlon and welcome . I think most people find Melocactus difficult to keep over here . The one that you have identified for me has survived by being kept in the house but i worry it's not getting enough light. I think advice on how to keep them alive in our generally cold and damp conditions would be welcome. Thats a great series of photo's you've posted , thanks!
Stephen.. Bangor. N. Ireland.
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Re: What would you like to know about Melocactus?

Post by John E » Wed Oct 17, 2007 6:18 pm

Hi Marlon. Its nice to have you join the forum. We spent a good number of happy hours looking at Copiapoas in Chile and trying hard to keep you off of alcohol!! I still owe you one for the pic you took of the rear end of my trousers after we slid down the San Ramon river valley.
John E
I have been growing C & S since 1968. A lot of my plants were imports in the early 1970s. I am a Crawley branch member sometimes!
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