Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Monstrose By Any Other Name....

Introducing the Ming Thing! Cereus forbesii monstrose to be precise.

Why is this cactus so weird-looking? According to the Cactus and Succulent Society of America, monstrose growth is caused by a mutation (genetic, viral, or bacterial) that causes every growth tip to think it's the dominant one. So instead of slowly growing into a nice barrel or cylinder, it just...grows everywhere. Fast.

In Cereus, the mutation happened quite a long time ago, in nature, and now it's deliberately cultivated. It didn't escape from some lab in West Texas. That's a relief.

Monstrose cacti can be a little more rot-prone, but can also be propagated by cuttings, which is a big plus.

So what do you think of the Ming Thing? Fabulously freaky or just URGH?


  1. Very interesting info Marla! I think it's interestingly beautiful in a strange kinda way. I'm not sure what I think of mutation anymore, it's funny how and what we define as good mutation and bad mutation.

  2. That's true, this is a "natural" mutation, therefore, we tend to view it more positively. Even though the "natural mutation" may originally have been caused by a nasty virus! And now we quite unnaturally cultivate the monstrose mutants because they are so cool-looking to our eyes. So the mutant version eventually overtakes the "normal" version. Humans are peculiar creatures!

  3. Your cactus mutant is freaky and urggh, but super cute in its own peculiar way. This one is especially cute because it's so smooth and rounded.

    Humans are indeed peculiar creatures, putting great aesthetic value on what would be considered physical deformities - think dachshunds, Persian cats, lionhead goldfish, and all of the other deformed creatures that people perpetuate and accentuate through selective breeding.

    I have to admit that I also have a monstrose cactus, a Euphorbia of some type that lives on the windowsill in my office. It's not as cute as yours, though.

  4. Oh, smushed-face Persian cats, yes. Like so many other variations we have decided are "cool", they do need special care. There are quite a few crested and monstrose cacti out there now, with lots of people growing them and hopefully taking good care of them.

  5. How would one take a cutting for one of these guys?

    1. Hi, Jess!
      See my newest blog post, I've done my best to answer your excellent question. In brief, monstrose cacti are generally grafted, as they are delicate and rather finicky creatures due to the stress of their genetic mutations.