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Ariocarpus intermedius
(Syn: Ariocarpus fissuratus intermedius)
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Ariocarpus intermedius KMR 5.2 El Hundido, Coahuila, Mexico
This is is a species of extremely slow growing cacti commonly called "living rocks," in habitat these cacti usually blend in well with the terrain around them.
 

Description: Ariocarpus fissuratus is a variable geophyte species, the most interesting variant being the A. lloydii.  However the range of these two forms merge, giving rise to some populations with transitional characteristics known as A. intermedius. But nowadays many botanist considered both A. lloydii and A. intermedius no more than varieties of A. fissuratus. It is  usually solitary, rarely giving rise to side shoots from old areoles, it grows extremely slowly, to 20 cm in diameter.
Stem:
Star-shaped composed by a rosette of fleshy, deltoid to hemispheric tubercles, which have no spines. The tubercles, about as long as wide, are coarsely rugose, and often sharply angled apically and closely packed to form a coarse mosaic.
Areoles: The
areoles are up to 3 mm wide, sometimes confined to middle of tubercle faces instead of extending to tips.
Roots: Each plant has a large turnip-like taproot, which lies below the soil surface and serves for water storage.
Flowers: These plants have a  woolly  crown, from which emerge bright pink-violet flowers up to 2.5-5 cm, 2 times wider than long when fully expanded. Flowers last for 3 to 4 days.
Blooming season: October, November.
 


                                         Ariocarpus intermedius SB503


State Capital, Coahuila, Mexico                                           

Each plant has a large turnip-like taproot, which lies below the soil surface and serves for water storage.


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Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)
 

Scientific name: Ariocarpus intermedius (Backb. & Kilian) Voldan

Basionym: Roseocactus intermedius Backbg. and Kilian,
In: Kakt. Sukk. 11(1 0):149 (1960)].

 

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix I.
 

Synonyms:

  • Ariocarpus fissuratus (Engelmann) Schumann
    in Engler and Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. 3, 6a:15, 9 (1891).
  • Ariocarpus fissuratus var. intermedius
  • Ariocarpus fissuratus subsp. fissuratus var. intermedius
  • Ariocarpus fissuratus var. lloydii (Rose) W. T. Marshall, 1941

 

 

 


These cacti consist of many small tubercles growing from a large tap root. They are usually solitary, rarely giving rise to side shoots from old areoles.

Habitat and Ecology: These plants are characteristic of dry limestone ridges and low, rocky hills of limestone chips  at an altitude of 500-1500 m among the Chihuahuan desert scrub.
The stems are normally flush and well camouflaged with the soil surface resembling limestone chips in shape, colour, and texture, rendering the plants extremely cryptic. They are greyish-green in colour, sometimes taking on a yellowish tint with age. These cacti are difficult to spot in their natural habitat. When they are found, it is usually due to their pinkish flowers
In times of severe drought, the whole above-ground portion of these plants can shrink and be covered by rock fragments, but the taproot remains alive. Many exist as only small, isolated populations, and are in danger of extinction because they sought by plant collectors. For this reason they are protected plants in the regions where they occur.

Cultivation is not too difficult in a greenhouse, although A. fissuratus grows extremely slowly. The plants need deep pots to accommodate the napiform unit formed by the stem base and the rootstock  (or they will often simply crack your pots), , and a loose mineral soil with a well-drained substrate. They need a good amount of light, a place near the roof of the greenhouse helps drying the pot after watering. This can be done weekly during the summertime, if the weather is sunny enough, with a little fertilizer added.  Kept this way, plants will show a healthy, although slow growth. They are frost hardy to -10C

Propagation: By seeds, remembering that  seedlings dislike strong light and dry conditions,  and need to be repotted frequently. Eventually, as they become mature, they reach a maximum size of 25 to 27 cm. However, old plants become senile and have a tendency to succumb to disease and a weak root system.  At this stage, as is well known, they die suddenly. So, after they reach 20 cm in diameter grow them slowly, and adopt a new repotting period, using intervals of every 2 - 3 years. Additionally grow them under drier conditions or with stronger sunlight. Plants are often grafted to accelerate growth, as they would generally take at least a decade to reach maturity on their own.  But the grafted plants are typically rather tall- growing, compared with plants on their own roots, that are usually flatter to the ground.  A. fissuratus starts blooming at the age of 8-12 years.
 

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Ariocarpus fissuratus/bravoanus  complex (This Taxon has lots of synonyms whit several controversial varieties and subspecies):

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art file are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.