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  Melocactus erythracanthus
(Syn: Melocactus ernestii)

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Melocactus erythracanthus ( Long spined form )
This is one of the longest spined species of the genus, but quite variable regarding the length of the spines  and plants from different provenience will be remarkably different.

Description: Melocactus erythracanthus is one of the larger Melocactus and also one of the longest spined species of the genus. Usually it stay solitary, it is also a quite variable species in size colour and form of the spines.
Stem: Globose to conical strongly longitudinally ribbed, up to 45 cm tall, 35 cm in diameter. Mature plants are easily recognizable by their cephalium, that have a covering of wool and bristles, The immature plant looks like a smallish barrel cactus, and there is nothing in its appearance that would suggest a Melocactus.
Ribs: 10 to 13.

The most remarkable part of a Melocactus is its cephalium a bristle-coated structure on the summit of the plant, only Melocactus, and the similar genus Discocactus possesses this type of permanent, apical, hatlike appendage. It’s only when a Melocactus reaches maturity that the cephalium begins to grow. Cylindrical, with a diameter distinctly smaller than that of the plant body below, the cephalium will keep growing for the rest of the plant’s life, but the body of the plant stops growing the moment the cephalium starts to form. . As the plants age the cephalium doesn’t increase in circumference it will steadily grow taller

Cultivation: These cacti are not the easiest things to grow and aren’t plants for beginners.
Melocactus erythracanthus
grows from April to October, it can’t endure long stretches of total dryness, and also too much water will rot it, as its weak root systems tends to be inefficient at sucking up water from wet soil. Nonetheless, again as a result of their tropical origins, they need a fair amount of water, but allow the soil to dry quite a bit before watering again. Melocactus rests from October to April but can’t stand cold, or even fairly cool temperatures, so is indispensable to keep it above 8-12°C at all times, severe damage or death occurring at temperatures that the great majority of cacti wouldn’t mind in the least and prefer more frequent water in winter than other cacti, say once a month. Do not feed in winter.
The root system is weak and generally resents being repotted and can take a long time to re-establish. The soil mix should be very quick draining, prefers very bright light, not as much as the most arid growing cacti, but plenty nonetheless.

Propagation: Exclusively by Seeds. Sow in February-march in a light, sandy, porous soil. Cover germinating tray with glass to prevent seed from drying out. Germination is most successful at a temperature of 18 to 22° C.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Melocactus ernestii complex (This Taxon has lots of synonyms ( like many other cacti) whit several controversial varieties and subspecies and comprises a multitude of different forms, but where each form is linked to others by populations of plants with intermediate characteristics):

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo  gallery MELOCACTUS



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Melocactus erythracanthus
A.F.H. Buining & A.J. Brederoo,
Published in: Cactus and Succulent Journal [U. S. ] 45: 223, 1973

Scientific name:  Melocactus ernestii D. Vaupel, ssp. ernestii
Published in: Monatscr. Kakteenkunde 30, 8, 1920

OriginM. ernestii is a critically endangered species endemic to north-eastern Brazil. (Bahia, Minas Gerais) It grows in sympatry with other congeneric species and it has generated some natural hybrid like Melocactus × albicephalus (M. ernestii × M. glaucescens)

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common NameTurk’s cap,  “melon cactus” (or simply “melon”)

  • Melocactus azulensis
  • Melocactus interpositus
  • Melocactus longispinus
  • Melocactus nitidus
  • Melocactus oreas ernestii
    Melocactus neomontanus
  • Melocactus deinacanthus
  • Melocactus mulequensis
  • Melocactus montanus
  • Melocactus longispinus
  • Melocactus deinacanthus ssp. florschuetzianus
  • Melocactus florschuetzianus
  • Melocactus oreas
  • Melocactus erythracanthus
  • Melocactus azulensis
  • Melocactus oreas ssp. ernestii
  • Melocactus ernesti
  • Melocactus oreas var. longispinus


Melocactus erythracanthus ( Short spined form )

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

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