Sentient Meat

comfortable with uncertainty

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June 25, 2012 @ 12:22 am

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Eriosyce paucicostata ssp floccosa

Eriosyce paucicostata ssp floccosa is reportedly known only from the region of Blanco Encalada in the coastal mountains of Antofagasta, Chile. It has been known under many synonyms, especially Neoporteria floccosa and Neochilenia floccosa.

This young specimen has white spines and wool obscuring the green body. Some individuals are not covered quite so completely.

Flowers have the appearance of antique paper, with the outer petals a darker pink, fading to pale pink for the inner petals.

Eriosyce paucicostata ssp floccosa are noted for long hairs under the flowers. Full grown plants look somewhat different, but the plant pictured in habitat is just as completely covered by long spines, wool, and hairs. (This photo is at

Eriosyce paucicostata ssp floccosa in habitat from

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June 10, 2012 @ 11:59 am

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Copiapoa hypogaea

Continuing the theme of “odd miniatures”, Copiapoa hypogaea is a spiral, brown or bronzed disc-shaped cactus, 3 or 4cm in the wild or larger 7cm in cultivation.

The pictured plant shows the larger, luxurious, 7cm size of its cushy lifestyle. In habitat, most of the body is under the ground’s surface. Spines are small and relatively harmless. Some individuals lack spines entirely. Flowers are yellow and reportedly somewhat fragrant, though I didn’t notice much fragrance wafting from the pictured plant.

More unusual is the ‘Lizard Skin’ variety with a wrinkly epidermis found in only one of the two subpopulations of C hypogaea in the wild. Pictured here is the more typical variety.

Native to area near Chañaral (Coastal Chile, 02 Antofagasta).

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June 3, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Coryphantha compacta, synonym Coryphantha palmeri

Active today is this lovely Coryphantha palmeri, native to Chihuahua, Durango, and Tamaulipas, Mexico.

Reported used in shamanic rituals, Coryphantha palmeri makes a nice container specimen, too.

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May 28, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

SUCCULENT SUNDAY HOLIDAY: Astrophytum cv ‘Onzuka’

I’ve had mixed results with genus Astrophytum. I’ve lost some of these cacti to mysterious, chunk-devouring pests—I suspect rats, but it could be squirrels or birds. I’ve lost others to rot… perhaps underwatering, dead roots, and then rot growing on the dead roots.

This individual Astrophytum cv ‘Onzuka’ is doing really well so far. It overshadows its 3-inch pot with a full 3.5-inch diameter. I’ll repot it soon. I’ve heard from an advanced grower that he cuts off the taproot at a certain age, forcing the stem to grow smaller, less rot-prone roots. Sounds radical but I seem to recall he claimed everyone in Japan does this.

It’s hard not to like Astrophytum cv ‘Onzuka’. It has strange, white-speckled skin, its body is oddly geometric, and its flower is understated but beautiful.

Speaking of Japan, that’s where this justifiably popular cultivar of Astrophytum myriostigma is said to originate.

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May 13, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Gymnocalycium leeanum, cool as a cucumber

You won’t find a blue-flowered cactus—the entirely family Cactaceae famously lacks blue flower pigment. Green cactus flowers, however… while not common, green cactus flowers do exist, for instance on this week’s South American cactus, Gymnocalycium leeanum.

As it matures, this Argentina cactus often forms clumps of several round bodies. Its central spines (outward-facing spines) may be lacking, as in the pictured specimen. The radial spines are held close to the round body, as if ironed flush to the cactus’s outer surface.

Gymnocalycium leeanum flowers range from yellow, yellow-white, or greenish yellow, as in the plant pictured.

Gymnocalycium leeanum, grown and photographed by Mr Sentient Meat

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May 6, 2012 @ 11:11 am

Rebutia neocumingii (Backeberg) D. R. Hunt 1987

Bolivian cactus Rebutia neocumingii was known under genus name Weingartia from its description by Backeberg in 1950 until Weingartia was combined under Rebutia by Hunt in 1987. Its flowers can be yellow, orange or red depending on locality. It’s normally solitary and unbranched, though the individual pictured is sprouting additional heads. Typically this species has much longer spines; this plant was obtained as form brevispina. It is about 7.5 cm across; at full growth, it can reach 10cm across and up to 20cm in height.

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April 29, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Parodia microsperma, riot of dark orange

Returning from a month-long hiatus, I worried that many Sentient Meat plants would be dead. Luckily the casualties were few, and many of the survivors have put on noticeable growth in my absence. Since spring is the most active season, many are also now in riotous flower… like today’s Parodia microsperma.

This plant was obtained without a label, and I believed it was Parodia herzogii. Consulting Anderson The Cactus Family and other references, I see this is not wrong, but the accepted name for this type is Parodia microsperma. I also see this cactus has been described under literally dozens of different names, all likely synonyms for this one species.

It has a reputation as a showy plant, and this individual indeed puts on a show. Flowers range from yellow to deep orange (like this one) and even blood-red.

Parodia microsperma and its many synonyms are native to southern Bolivia and northern Argentina.

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April 15, 2012 @ 11:28 pm

Hiatus for one more week

Succulent Sunday has been on hiatus while Mr Sentient Meat is out of the country. Plans are to resume upon returning to Los Angeles. —SM

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March 19, 2012 @ 3:33 am

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Turbinicarpus valdezianus pseudopectinatus, little Thumbelina

Turbinicarpus valdezianus is one of the smallest and slowest-growing cactus—small even within genus Turbinicarpus, not known for their tremendous size. The diminutive body is the size and shape of a thimble. The spines are minute, almost microscopic, and flattened against the body in harmless tight formation—more like scales than armament. Flowers are pink, often striped; occasionally white.

Turbinicarpus valdezianus

Turbinicarpus valdezianus is found in Coahuila, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León, and Zacatecas.

Turbinicarpus valdezianus showing more of body

Correction: The plant was originally identified as Turbinicarpus valdezianus. A fallen label was discovered, and this plant is the related Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus.

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March 12, 2012 @ 12:59 am

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Parodia buiningii, synonym Notocactus buiningii

This week Parodia buiningii takes us to South America. Each plant is an excuse to learn more about botany and geography, bouncing from continent to continent as the inspiration strikes. A succulent species represents millions of years of adaptation to specific ecological pressures in Mexico or the rest of North America, Africa, Madagascar… or this week, Uruguay and Brazil.

Parodia buiningii is also known by its synonym Notocactus buiningii. (All Notocactus species have been included under the genus Parodia, where they form a distinct clade: a group of related plants with evidence of descending from a common ancestor.) 

Parodia buiningii is one of the most handsome members of the group formerly known as genus Notocactus: geometric ribs, glaucous blue-green skin, and needle-sharp spines the color of tortoise shell. This Parodia buiningii has advanced flower buds with characteristic brown wool. They look almost like fuzzy antlers on a young deer or strange rabbit ears. The flowers will be yellow. This individual is probably a few years old and measures approximately 3 inches across.

Notocactus buiningii grown and photographed by Mr Sentient Meat

Which country is it really from, you ask—Uruguay or Brazil? Well, Parodia buiningii is found near the unusual dual-nationality city: Rivera, the capital of the Rivera Department of Uruguay and (Santana do) Livramento, a city in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. In an uncommon arrangement, citizens of either country within the city can cross the border freely. Customs and checkpoints are located outside the city.

Parodia buiningii is reportedly rare in its habitat, the environs of these twin cities, Rivera, Uruguay, and Livramento, Brazil.

Closeup of same Notocactus buiningii grown and photographed by Mr Sentient Meat

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The title Sentient Meat was taken from Terry Bisson's short story, “They’re Made Out of Meat”
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