"Webster's Hedgehog Cactus"

This photograph shows an unusual behaviour of Webster's Hedgehog Cactus. Normally, for many of its earlier years, E. websterianus remains a solitary columnar cereus with 18 to 24 ribs carrying golden yellow, slightly recurved spines, about 10 to 14, and 6 to 8 central spines per areole.
Echinocereus websterianus [PJB.CE618.2]
The particular plant shown in this photo (CE618.2) is an exception in three respects: Its spines are of the purest white instead of golden yellow, its central spines are hardly distinguishable from the radials and it has three heads. These latter are offsets; "pups" growing from the base of the lovely plant I accidentally decapitated a couple of years earlier. As a result, this already spectacular plant is three times as lovely as it is supposed to be and it has three more buds which will do it again a little later. It's a fine example of the degree of variability to be expected within a species still evolving as are the cacti. Unfortunately, we lost this beauty a couple of years ago.

Webster's Hedgehog is native to Baja California and Mexico, Sonora, San Pedro Nolasco. In habitat, its 8cm (3") stem will grow to 60cm (24") tall but in the greenhouse we will normally cut it and re-root its top when it gets too long. The base, of course, will produce more pups which can also be taken and re-rooted.

E.websterianus is mentioned, often only minimally, in the more technical and advanced books and journals, hardly ever at all in the more popular horticultural books. That's because it is only one of the echinocerei, a genus renowned for its spectacular blooms; but it is less easily available and so is not so well known as others which have "captured the market", so to speak.

Paul J. Brunelle
15 May 2001