Friday, May 16, 2008

Ric-Rac Cactus, (aka: Anthony's Rick-Rack, Zig-Zag Cactus, or Fishbone Orchid Cactus)

I recieved two new specimens in the mail yesterday from Gardinos, and one of them was this lovely cactus...which to me seems more non-cactus because it has no spines, and it is an epiphytic plant...dark green, smooth and flowing. Ever since the time I saw the first one in picture, and then at Vickie's, I have been in love. If you go to her blog you can see the blooms! They are awesome, huge and purple!!! I will probably need to wait until next spring to see this one bloom, if it will. I plan to put it in a big pot, and keep taking cuttings on the longer peices and get myself a nice huge plant going!

According to Paghat, Cryptocereus anthonyanus (formerly Selenicereus anthonyanus) is an epiphytic cactus from Mexico. It can be grown either in orchid substrate, or in regular cactus potting soil with a bit of humus added. In the wild it attaches itself to trees, clinging by little aerial root filaments along the zigzagging succulent leaves, but is adaptable to terrestrial habits. It can be trained to climb a trellis, but looks best in a hanging basket from whence the lightning-shaped leaves will dangle two to four feet over the edge.

It loves strong yet indirect lighting. It does not need a lot of water & should be permitted to dry out entirely between waterings. It has its limits, however, & we did manage to neglect the plant for some while so that several leaves died, & so we put it in a spot where we'd be more apt to pay attention to it, & it rapidly bounced back with occasional watering.

It is nightblooming, & its flowers last only a single night in spring. It is common that specimens rare or never flower, but when they do so, they are usually rootbound in poor soil, then can produce many white & pink & maroon slender-petaled starburst blossoms, which begin to open right at dusk, releasing a pleasing fragrance intended to attract nocturnal pollinators.

Because the flowers are so quickly spent, this epiphyte is mainly only grown for the strange leaves which lend it the common name Ric-Rac Cactus, or occasionally Zig-Zag or Fishbone Cactus.

The species name is after St. Anthony. Is there was a Catholic myth which explains the reason for this name? It turns out that there is a traditional prayer to Anthony that pleads, "From thunder, lightning & storms, St. Anthony deliver us," for as it turns out, Anthony is called to whenever a Catholic is at risk of death in a blizzard, & might even be regarded as a patron saint of weather forcasting.

Seeking further a story that would explain Anthony's power over fierce weather, it turns out that among his many supernatural visions, induced by fasting & abuse of his own body, he hallucinated himself set-upon by demons in the form of tornados & hailstones & such like, with Satan having the form of a thunderbolt, as is stated in the gospel of Luke [10:18].

So as it turns out, the ric-rac cactus is manifestation of the devil!
What a great story!!!


No Rain said...

Hey Julie,
I was just checking out some of the blogs on your list that I've not seen before. There are some really neat ones! Where do you find all these great blogs?

Claude said...

These are great plants, and they look great in hanging baskets... but they are a challenge to get to bloom.

I've never figured out what triggers the bloom, Now, I just let it hang there and do its own thing!

Julie said...

Hi Cluade- You have one too, huh? I just love the look...I won't even care if it ever blooms really, it is just so awesome all by itself! LOL :)

Hi Aiyana- I have Google Alerts set up with key words such as "succulents", and all different succulent plants names, and whenever someone posts about such a thing, I get an alert to my e-mail, and I can read their blogs! It's really neat!

My LIttle Family: said...

Mine gets about 4 blooms a year, every year. It's been a reliable bloomer. I amnot sure what medium it is in but when I bought it from some woman's yard, the metal hanger was rusted (still is)and there were lots of dead oak leaves on top of the soil indicating it's beeb untouched for a while. Mine gets water 1 or 2 times a week, depending on season, but I don't soak it. Also, that thing attaches itself to anything! Other plants, their pots, their leaves, the fence, the hanger, the arbor - anything it can,

I'm sure yours will do fine. We live in similar lcimates and you are experienced with succulents.