Melocactus matanzanus

Melocactus is the oldest known genus of cacti in Europe. They were found by Christopher Columbus on the coast of the West Indies, where they still grow. Cuba is the native land of the species shown here; other members of the genus are found in Central and South America. It has a pale green body, about 9 cm (3 ½ inch) across, with eight to nine sharp ribs. The strongly curved spines are white. Typical of every Melocactus is the semi-spherical formation on the crown, called a cephalium, where flowers, and later fruits, develop. The orange-red cephal-ium makes an interesting contrast to the green of the stem. The body of Melocacti is spherical (the word melo means melon), with prominent ribs and long spines. The minute flowers and cylindrical fruits are reminiscent of the genus Mammillaria.

It requires lots of sun in summer. Water freely and mist regularly in summer. Keep dry in winter and ensure that there is adequate light. The optimum winter temperature is about 15°C (59° F).

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