This is species has very strong and long spines.
The most remarkable part of a Melocactus is
cephalium a bristle-coated structure on the summit of the plant,
only Melocactus, and the similar genus
possesses this type of permanent, apical, hat-like 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.
Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars
of plants belonging
to the Melocactus ernestii
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):
Scientific name: Melocactus
ernestii D. Vaupel
Published in: Monatscr. Kakteenkunde 30, 8, 1920
Origin: Itoabim, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
Common Name: Turk’s cap, “melon cactus” (or
- Melocactus azulensis forma multiceps
- Melocactus ernestii v. multiceps
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.