Thursday, April 09, 2009
Prickly Beauty, Splitters and Lumpers
Sulcorebutia menesesii. The cactus are blooming in my back yard and oh what a wonder it is to watch them bloom! It always amazes me as these brilliant, gorgeous flowers that seem so ironically delicate come out of their prickly hosts (which also have a symmetry and beauty of their own). They're all different and not an ugly one among them (well...Euphorbias aren't much for flowers but otherwise...).
Sulcorebutias are a small genera of cacti from the Bolivian Andes at 8k-12k ft. Wow. Ironically, they are susceptible to frost and rot, even when originating from such a high, cloudy climate. They have recently been moved back into the genus Rebutia. Score one for the "Lumpers". One way to tell if a cacti is likely a Sulcorebutia or a Rebutia is that they tend to flower basally (from the bottom and sides of the cactus) as opposed to other cacti that flower from the top.
For the non-initiated, lumpers are taxonomists that prefer to combine more species and perhaps more diversity into an existing Genus and splitters are taxonomists that prefer to create Genus' of fewer but more closely related species. I suppose it is somewhat arbitrary where you draw the genetic line but it does make it confusing for us novices as Genus' come and go.