OK, time to close out the blog series centered around my amazing visit to Monterrey, Mexico. Let’s go out with a bang. Well, a bang if you love cactus, that is. After four very busy days touring around much of the state of Nuevo León, I accumulated a few thousand photos. It took me days to weed through them all and load the photos for this post. Selecting really good cactus photographs proved much more challenging than anticipated, because most were shot in a fully exposed desert setting. The lighting was terrible due to how bright it was. I now see why the pros bring something called a “diffuser” with them while shooting cacti in the desert. I still want to try and show an example of almost every cactus I saw during my adventure, even though not all the photos are of the highest quality.
Before I start showing the cactus photographs, I must first thank my guide for the duration of the trip – Miguel González Botello. When I knew I wanted to see Agave albopilosa in the nature reserve of La Huasteca, I began trying to track down someone who could get me to where the plants were located. After spending a few days asking around and searching online, I came across a website where the blogger raved about his guide – Miguel. After reading that blog post, I immediately contacted Miguel and the rest is history, as they say.
Something I want to point out about Miguel is that he is not a guide by profession. He is actually an engineer that writes impact studies. Being a plant-lover is just his passion; as it is mine. Miguel is also the former President of the Nuevo Leon Cactus and Succulent Society. Thanks to Miguel’s extensive knowledge and experience in hunting cactus out in the field, I was able to see just over 50 different species and/or subspecies of cactus in those four days. Accomplishing such a feat required Miguel and I to put over 1,000 kilometers of driving on his Toyota Hilux. If you plan on cactus hunting around Nuevo León, I highly recommend using Miguel. You can find him on Facebook or contact me, and I will share his information.
I am a cactus neophyte. So I must also thank Miguel for helping put names to most of the plants I am posting here. Below is my friend Miguel deciding to use his iPhone, instead of one of the other two cameras he slings, to take a photo of a cactus named after him – Turbinicarpus saueri var. gonzalezii.
Makes sense to start with that plant for the first of the cactus photographs. Turbinicarpus saueri var. gonzalezii.
Ancistrocactus scherii adult in the first photo below, and juvenile in the second.
Coryphantha salinensis. Baby, juvenile and adult.
Astrophytum capricorne. Sadly, anything bigger has been poached from habitat. A sad story shared by many of the plants shown here.
If I had to choose a favorite cactus genus I saw during my time with Miguel, I think I would have to go with Epithelantha. There was just something about the white spination and the small, globular-shaped stems. My favorite of the Epithelantha had to be Epithelantha ilariae.
I enjoyed Epithelantha ilariae so much that we hunted for it well past dark.
Epithelantha greggii ssp. gregii.
Epithelantha unguispina ssp. huastecana. Another great example of when a diffuser would have made a big difference in reducing the bright light and harsh shadows.
Epithelantha pachyrhiza ssp. pulchra. This species is known for its distinctive tuberous, carrot-like root. This root is partially viewable in the second photo below.
Echinocereus fitchii var. armatus. The long central spine separates this species from the one above.
Echinocereus fitchii ssp. bergmannii.
Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. fitchii.
Mammillaria heyderi with flowers.
Mammilloydia candida in a more exposed area and one in more shade.
Echinocereus viereckii ssp. huastecensis.
Echinocereus pentalophus var. leonensis.
Finding this variegated Echinocereus enneacanthus was extremely lucky.
Echinocactus platyacanthus juvenile.
A small Echinocactus platyacanthus adult. These cacti can grow to 8 feet tall. The common name is the Candy Barrel Cactus because the pith of Echinocactus platyacanthus is boiled to make a very popular traditional candy.
Thelocactus bicolor ssp. bicolor baby and juvenile.
Adult Thelocactus bicolor ssp. bicolor with Agave lechuguilla.
I was visiting Monterrey during a time that not many cactus species were in flower. So I have a limited resource pool to select from, but of the ones I did see in bloom, Thelocactus bicolor ssp. bicolor had the most beautiful flowers.
While I am usually not the greatest fan of Cholla cactus, there were a few nice ones around Nuevo León. The spine coloration was unique on this Cylindropuntia leptocaulis, so it had to make my list of cactus photographs to show. The second photo shows that it is really just a removable sheath.
Me giving scale to a Fouquieria splendens. The reason I wanted to show this photo is so readers can compare the much smaller stature of this plant to the more robust Fouquieria splendens var. splendens I saw while touring the Anza-Borrego Desert.
Opuntia microdasys is one of my favorite of the genus to see in the wild. I would never grow it in my garden, however. Opuntia microdasys is unique in the genus in that it doesn’t have any spines, but rather numerous white or yellow glochids. Those round tufts you see all over the plant are loaded with barely visible barbed bristles that when brushed up against detach and cause serious skin irritation.
The orange flowers of Opuntia pheacantha.
Lophophora williamsii (Peyote) hiding under a rock.
The next three plants I will show below, you would have seen on my blog post about the anti-herbivory camouflage of Ariocarpus. Below is Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus.
Geohintonia mexicana appeared in my blog post regarding finding the palm tree Brahea decumbens on a gypsum outcrop.
So there you have it. Seventy cactus photographs. Cacti are a funny thing. You either love them or you hate them. I can tell that most of my regular readers are on the “Do not like” side of the fence from prior comments. After this major cactus overdose, I will take a break from cactus posts for a while.
Or will I…