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Current Photo: CT0602
Photographer's Comments: 35mm slide. Note the 3- to 5-angled tubercles and the brownish, scant spines of this subsp. lloydii plant.
Authority: (Lemaire) BR.& R. 1922
Variety: subsp. lloydii
Date Added: 2004-06-23
Entered By: Paul J. Brunelle
Echinocacus hexaedrophorus Lemaire 1839,
Thelocactus hexaedrophorus var. major Quehl 1894,
T. hexaedrophorus var. major (Quehl) A.Berger 1929,
T. hexaedrophorus var. decipiens A.Berger 1929.
White Nipple Cactus.
This Thelocactus hexaedrophorus subsp. lloydii, the "White Nipple Cactus", is a usually solitary native to the savanna and grasslands of Zacatecas State, northern Mexico, ranging from 2200 to 2300m (7200 to 7500ft) altitude. It matures at 10 to 15cm (4" to 6") in stem diameter with large, 5- or 6-sided, knobby tubercles and it forms very large, 6 to 8cm (3" to 3.5") silvery white flowers . Although the 1 or 2 central and up to 5 radial spines (at maturity) appear menacing, the plant is actually easy to handle. It is a very choice species of which there are now only two subspecies recognized, subsp. hexaedrophorus ranging farther afield from Coahuila to Chihuahua between the lower altitudes 1100 to 2300m (3600to 6600ft), and subsp. lloydii only from the higher altitudes noted above in Zacatecas. Those are not the kinds of "Deserts" one thinks about when the word "cactus" comes up, and it is important to point this out to counteract the far too widespread misunderstanding about these wonderful plants' habitats.
The plant shown here was an individual one that I obtained from a dealer in Arizona. It recovered very quickly from the long, slow journey through "snail mail" and customs by rooting itself firmly in sandy soil within two weeks, in my greenhouse, a fairly good indication that it is vigorously well adapted to a severe climate. At their higher altitudes many cacti have evolved thicker, more viscous sap, an effective antifreeze, and usually darker coloration which absorbs more of the solar heat. As well, higher altitude plants often tend to bloom quickly and spectacularly, with short-lived flowers.