October 23, 2011 @ 9:48 pm
When I bought this Lobivia schieliana (syn Echinopsis schieliana), it had no flowers or buds. I got it for the wonderful spines, which turn the rounded (globose) stems of the plant into little inverted birds’ nests. It was a homely beauty, a miniature sculpture of meticulously attached pieces of straw spun into whorls. It was in fact a perfect example of a particular cactus aesthetic: curious, ugly-as-beautiful — the implicit danger of spines, tamed by culture… and in this case, by the plant’s tendency to use its defensive spines as horny shield rather than stabbing weapons.
And then… out of nowhere… the blooms. Shocking red, raised above the body of the plant on narrow tubes — the better to be seen by their dancing partners… hummingbirds? Much as I want to write about my other strange cacti — exquisite snowy globes or pineapples with spines like bouquets of grass — I can’t ignore these flowers any better than the hummingbirds can.
PS One of the… I say THE… references on cactus just arrived in the mail and I’m very excited: The Cactus Family (2001) by Edward F. Anderson. He writes,
Echinopsis schieliana (Backeburg) D. R. Hunt 1987
Lobivia schieliana Backeberg 1957, L. backeburgii subsp. schieliana (Backeburg) G. D. Rowley 1982
Lobivia quiabayensis Rausch 1968, Echinopsis maximiliana subsp. quiabayensis (Rausch) G. D. Rowley 1982
Lobivia leptacantha Rausch 1972
Plants often forming clusters from basal branching. Stems globose to cylindrical, often slender, to 4.5 cm (1.8 in) long and 3.5 cm (1.4 in) in diameter. Ribs about 14. Central spine one, often absent at first, bent downward, light brown, 5–6 mm (0.2 in) long. Radial spines about 14, pectinate to radiating, interlacing, light brown. Flowers bright light red; floral tubes slender. Distribution: Peru and Bolivia.