WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

This beautiful hedgehog cactus with rigid orange-red to dark-red flowers is widespread throughout most of the state. The erect, cylindric stems, 2–5 inches wide and 2–24 inches tall, grows singly, as a cluster with only a few branches, or a mound several feet across with numerous branches. Note the stems have 5–8 ribs with widely separated areoles with only a few radial spines, and a central spine, if present, that feels angular to the touch.


FLOWER: April–June. Funnel-shaped flowers, 1–2 1/2-inch wide (3–7 cm), develop on the sides of the stem and have stiff, rounded petals (tepals), brilliant red with pale to white bases, and a green stigma that stands above the cluster of filaments with pinkish-purple anthers. Fruit is egg-shaped, 3/4–1 1/2-inches long (20–38 mm), fleshy, green maturing red with white pulp, and with clusters of tiny spines until ripe. Unlike cacti with thin, flexible tepals that attract insects for pollination, the rigid red tepals of claret cup cacti make perfect landing pads for hummingbirds.


SPINES: Areoles have short, white felt, 1–10 radial spines, the larger ones flat or angled, and no or 1 central spine, angular in cross-section.


HABITAT: Sandy, rocky soils, mesas, canyons, foothills; desert grasslands and scrub; brushlands, pinyon-juniper-oak, ponderosa-oak woodlands.


ELEVATION: 4,500–9,500 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, TX, UT.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The E. triglochidiatus complex, with several varieties, originally included Claret Cup,  E. coccineus,  which has 1–4 round central spines.  The closely related Arizona Claret Cup, E. arizonicus, in sw NM, has stems that reach 4–6-inches wide with 9–10 ribs.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread, except eastern border counties, in low- to mid-elevation, dry habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Cibola, Colfax, Dona Ana, Eddy, Grant, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Valencia.

KINGCUP  CACTUS,  CLARET  CUP

ECHINOCEREUS  TRIGLOCHIDIATUS

Cactus Family, Cactaceae

Perennial cactus

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Widely separated areoles have 1–10 radial and 0–1 central flattened to angular spines.

Large-stemmed variety common at White Sands.

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