"The Golden Fishhook Barrel (Yellow flowered, yellow spined Ferocactus wislizenii)"
Presented by Chris Monrad
Chris Monrad has been a TCSS member for nearly 20 years (now a paid life member) and was a co-founder of the Cactus Rescue program in 1999. During the numerous cactus rescues that he assisted with, he began noticing and marveling at the wide variety of spination patterns (black, brown, maroon, short, long, skinny, fat, nearly straight, highly recurved, etc) present in our local barrel cactus, Ferocactus wislizenii. (This interest in spination also spilled over into the Ocotillo / Fouquieria but that is another story.)
This fascination led to a keen interest in the entire genus Ferocactus and also the genus Echinocactus. His collection of these plants now includes several plants of nearly every species in each genus and he is now dedicated to the pollination and seed collection for many of these species as well.
During an early cactus rescue project at Saddlebrooke near Catalina, Arizona, Chris noticed a barrel cactus specimen with bright and pure yellow flowers as well as spines with a strong golden yellow cast. This plant would be the first of only five such specimens that would be collected by him over the next five years of rescue projects, with sites ranging from Saddlebrooke Ranch north of Oracle Junction to a new school site in Corona de Tucson, over 45 miles away from Saddlebrooke. Chris estimates this yellow spined/yellow flowered variety to occur in something like one in every 5,000 or 10,000 barrel cacti, based upon his numerous plant surveys and rescue activities.
Soon after acquiring the first two specimens, Chris wondered about the possibility of performing selective pollination between those two plants to develop a purpose-bred Ferocactus cultivar and began to consult with other noted Ferocacti propagators in the area. Some of the early results from the first efforts were encouraging and there are approximately 15 six year old yellows spined plants that may bloom this summer.
The summer of 2005 seed crop benefited from the presence of four available seed parents and the first crop of over one thousand seeds was planted in early 2006 with outstanding germination results and the ultimate reward of having numerous never-before-available plants to be given to attendees of the 2009 CSSA Convention at La Paloma and the celebration of the Golden Anniversary of TCSS.
This month's presentation will follow the production of this highly successful and exciting crop of plants from March 2006 thru today, with an eye toward the future landscape applications of the plant and the long term availability of this hardy, robust, and showy native Tucson cultivar.
Please come and enjoy hearing about the recovery of a rare find in our area and how we can make this plant a popular favorite part of our future Arizona landscapes (and beyond).
FREE PLANT GIVEAWAY
This month's free plants are robust three-year-old seedlings (red-spined versions) from the TCSS sponsored propagation of the Golden Fishhook cultivar of our native Ferocactus wislizenii. The four yellow-spined and pure yellow-flowered seed parents were found over several years during various cactus rescues ranging from north of Oracle Junction all way to Corona de Tucson. Hand pollination amongst the seed parents during the summer of 2005 resulted in an outstanding crop of fruit and seed that was sown in March 2006. Nearly 75% of the now three-year old seedlings have retained the yellow spination of the parents, but only approximately 25% of the seedlings have more typical red spines. Some of these rare red-spined specimens have been designated as the free plants for attendees of the April 2nd meeting. While the yellow spines of the parents did not carry through to these selected plants, it is possible that the yellow flowers will do so. In the interest of following the outcome of the offspring from this grand experiment, we encourage all members that acquire this plant to join an on-line registry to post the results from the future flowering of these plants.