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Frailea pygmaea var. aurea
(Syn: Frailea aurea)

CACTUSPEDIA       

 


Frailea pygmaea v. aurea
 

Description: Frailea pygmaea as the name implies ("pygmaeus" meaning dwarf), is a very small cactus that lives half buried in the ground. Most of the plants in habitat are single headed unless they are damaged.
Root: Long tuberose, inversely conical 2-3 cm wide. The "aurea" form is very nice, due to it golden-yellow spines, the flowers opens only during the sunniest summer days.
Stem: Typical F. pygmaea has a flattened, light green to dull green body, depressed at the crown, ,
with a turbinate base, 1 to 3 cm in diameter. Some forms have distinctive dark crescent-shaped marks below the areoles.
Ribs: 13-21 ribs, quite flat divided by transverse depression into tiny tubercles
(more noticeable when the body is dehydrated).
Areoles: At first with witish or slight yellow wool.
Spines: 6 -10 quite fine,
short, bristly, setaceous, glassy, white radial spines, 1- 4 mm long, adpressed and rarely also one or two small central spines. They are straight or slightly curved. Some forms have longer white spines that are basally orange yellow in colour while other have yellow spines and wool. The "aurea" variety has yellow spines.
Flowers: Arising from the crown from a very woolly bud, often cleistogamous, 2 to 2.5 cm, up to 3 cm diameter, pale yellow, with dense, whitish to rose-colored pubescence outside. Inner perianth-segments lanceolate, acute, yellow; filaments and style white; stigma-lobes yellowish.
But don't be disappointed when the easily produced buds fail to open. Fraileas are cleistogamous meaning that their flowers produce seed without even opening. Without the need for pollination, hence the buds rarely reach full bloom and remain closed. They will open only in great heat in the hottest, brightest, afternoon sun, if at all.
Blooming season: Hottest part of summer.
Fruit:
Dry  indehiscent that detach easily, pear-shaped, 1,5 cm tall, 1 cm in diameter, with short matted hairs and with a pointed head of bristles. The fruit wall is thick, membranous, fragile and it opens by a basal pore to release the seeds that are promptly harvested by ants.
Seeds: Elm shaped, 2 mm. long, shining, black with large oblong hilum nearly as long as the body.


 


Cleistogamus flowers and normal buds.

Self pollinated fruits


Cultivation:  Grow them in rich, porous soil and let them dry out between waterings.  These plants need a minimum temperature of 5-10° C (but occasionally temperatures of a few degrees below 0° are not dangerous)
Sun Exposure: They enjoy full sun but in a shaded position the plants grow faster, but are not  flat shaped.
Characteristically, during the dry season plants retract completely under the ground both in the wild and in cultivation too. This plant is short living (It does not live long - about 10-15 years).

Propagation:  With fresh harvested  seeds.
 


Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars
of plants belonging to the Frailea pygmaea complex
(This Taxon has lots of synonyms  whit several controversial varieties and subspecies and comprises a multitude of different forms):

 

 

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery FRAILEA

 

Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific Name: Frailea pygmaea var. aurea (Backeb.) Backeb.
Cactaceae (Backeberg) 3:, 1959

Nowadays regarded as:  Frailea pygmaea
An. Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires III.4:497, 1905

Distribution: Widespread over a wide area in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina.

Habitat: Grows often in mountainous region in scattered but numerous populations, and it is often quite common. Usually it is found in the crevices of rocky outcrops, between the pebbles near these outcrops or in grassy, gravelly areas where the thin soil depth minimizes any competition from other plants. It is often found growing together with F. gracillima and F. castanea. The rain fall are quite frequent and often abundant.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES Appendix II

Etymology: The genus name "Frailea" remembers the Spanish "Manuel Fraile", born in 1850 who was responsible for the cactus collection of the Department of Agriculture of the United States at the end of the XIX century.
The species name name
"pygmaea" derives from the Latin name “pygmaeus” which means “dwarf” and refers to the very deminute dimension of this plant. ( The specific name implies: "very dwarf").
 

 

 

Remarks: F. pygmaea has a wide distribution and is very variable with some forms having heads no wider than one or two centimetres. In accordance with the variability of the species, many names have been created for different forms, some of them correctly published but the majority invalidly and nowadays considered  as synonyms.

Recognized subspecies, varieties and forms:

  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. albicolumnaris (F. Ritter) A. Hofacker,
    Cactaceae Consensus Initiatives 6: 11, 1998
    This is the most distinctive variation, and the only one accepted at infraspecific rank that grows in Rio Grande do Sul, it is  a stouter form up to 4 cm in diameter and 8 cm in height, distinguished by the glaucous greyish-green epidermis and the tendency to become columnar, also it has many straight and vertical ribs not broken into tubercles.
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. altigibbera (F. Ritter) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta (Netherlands) 74 (3): 131, 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. asperispina (F. Ritter) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta (Netherlands) 74 (3): 131, 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. aureinitens (A.F.H. Buining & A.J. Brederoo) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta (Netherlands) 74 (3): 131, 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. aureispina (F. Ritter) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta (Netherlands) 74 (3): 131, 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. fulviseta (A.F.H. Buining & A.J. Brederoo) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta (Netherlands) 74 (3): 131, 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. hyssooniana K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 83, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. lilalunula (F. Ritter) P.J. Braun & E. Esteves Pereira
    Succulenta, 74 (3): 131: 1995
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. pygmaea
  • Frailea pygmaea ssp. tuyensis Metzing
    Cact. Syst. Init. No 21: 16
  • Frailea pygmaea var. aceguaensis K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 103, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. albispina
  • Frailea pygmaea var. altigibbera Ritter
    Kakteen in Südamerika, Vol.1, 203, Spangenberg 1979
  • Frailea pygmaea var. applanata K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 81, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. argenta K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 87, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. atrofusca Backeberg
    Kaktus-ABC 250. 1935 Without Latin diagnosis; Cactac. 3:, 1935
  • Frailea pygmaea var. aurea (Backeberg) Backeberg
     
  • Frailea pygmaea var. auricantha K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 81, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. bagensis K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 102, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. brunneo mollispina
    (Zaadlijst 2006 CaVe)
  • Frailea pygmaea var. carpinteria K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 78, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. castaneoidea K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 79, without latin descr. or type., 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. catiensis
  • Frailea pygmeae var. corallima
    (Zaadlijst 2006 CaVe)
  • Frailea pygmaea var. corallina K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 82, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. curvispina F. Ritter
    Kakteen in Südamerika, 1: 204, 1979
  • Frailea pygmaea var. dadakii (Fric ex Berger) Backeberg
    Cactaceae (Backeberg) 3:, 1959
  • Frailea pygmaea var. elegantissima
  • Frailea pygmaea var. gemmrichii K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 98, without latin descr. or type, 1997
    Frailea pygmaea var. gloriosa
    K.H. Prestlé
  • Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 79, without latin descr. or type., 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. grandiflora
  • Frailea pygmaea var. insignia K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 91, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. krausiana K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 80, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. largoensis K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 77, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. lilalunula
  • Frailea pygmaea var. longispina F. Ritter
    Kakteen in Südamerika, 1: 204, 1979
  • Frailea pygmaea var. maior F. Ritter
    Kakteen in Südamerika, 1: 204, 1979
  • Frailea pygmaea var. major
    (Zaadlijst 2006 CaVe)
  • Frailea pygmaea var. minanensis
  • Frailea pygmaea var. mollispina-brunnea K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 99, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. montana K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 81, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. olimarensis K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 82, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. phaeodisca (Spegazzini) Y. Ito
    Cacti (Borg), 70. 1952, 1952
  • Frailea pygmaea var. planicosta F. Ritter
    Kakteen in Südamerika, 1: 204, 1979
  • Frailea pygmaea var. pulcherrima (Arechavaleta) K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 84: 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. sakusiana
  • Frailea pygmaea var. salascana
  • Frailea pygmaea var. salusiana
  • Frailea pygmaea var. santanaensis K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 87, without latin descr. or type, 1997
  • Frailea pygmaea var. viridilunula K.H. Prestlé
    Gattung Frailea (Br. & R.) Prestlé: 97, without latin descr. or type, 1997



 

Cactuspedia home | E-mail | Photo gallery | Dictionary | Search 

This old page has been moved! Click the link next on the right to enter the new Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.

The Encyclopedia of Cacti