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How to recognize a macrogonus


I was wondering what features can reliably recognize a macrogonus.

My personal opinion is that if it did not descend from the Berlin Botanical Gardens it can't really be proven to be a macrogonus and that the name and description should be chucked as invalid but that is hardly useful in the real world since so many macrogonuses exist out there that are reliably distinct from the peruvianus sorts.

Some people try to stuff a bunch of clearly peruvianus plants into it (which is clearly wrong since peruvianus branches can grow to around 15 or more feet and those of macrogonus only get to around 6 - sometimes a bit longer if jointed and prostrate)

Awlshaped spines, brown from the start, at least for a short while, seems the only unique thing in the description but this is not reliably true in the real world.

I'd love to hear opinions on how people recognize theirs. Not to find people to disagree with but to try and sort out what makes a macrogonus a macrogonus.

Edited by trucha
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interesting.... i have cuttings which I believed were macro... came from a plant which from memory, may have been a fair bit over 6 ft. Often in here, When a macro/peru ID is posted... there is always the 2 ID's given... I had gotten to the point where I thought the 2 titles were interchangable. obviously though.... there are likely distinct differences... I would love to hear what they are.

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Hmm, probably anything that didn't look like what I expected from pachanoi, peruvianus or bridgesii. ;)

If it displayed prostate growth at a couple of metres, had awl shaped spines rather than needlelike, had fairly even lengthed outer spines with a longer downward sloping central, had largish grey felted areoles on older growth, smaller areole spacing, small flower length were some of the indicators I looked for, and just a thinner profile in general as I expected peruvianus to be quite fat and spiny looking.

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Thanks. Its something that needs some working out so the more data we can assemble the better as it would be nice to have a good definition that means something so far as the real world goes.

Most people I know here in CA say something like "I can't describe it but I know it when I see it."

Then there are others that call any slender blue peruvianus a macrogonus.

I'm not convinced that peruvianus and macrogonus aren't different forms within one larger species along with pachanoi and bridgesii but there does seem to be some means of all of differentiating them I would like to work out with the help of the cactus loving community.

Consensus decision making seems called for in this instance.

Flower images would be greatly welcomed.

When taking flower photos consider taking images of:

Young buds just forming

Preopening buds the day before opening

Open flowers shot straight down the throat

Closeups of the stigma and lobes

Details of the stamens and their arrangement

Side views into the flower

Closeups of the petals/corolla

Side views of the outer petals and sepals

A side view of the entire flower

A side view closeup of just the throat

A close view of the scales and hairs

A close view of the ovary

A close view of the green fruit ripening and then again fully ripe

While it is often hard to get all of these (and to get all of them in focus) this is my present ideal target for anything I shoot.

I need to get busy and start uploading more images but I'm still in photo relabelling mode.

That is a problem with picture taking.

This year I got carried away and have repeatedly visited multiple cactus growers and several botanical gardens (so far including several visits to Berkeley, one to the Strybig, 3 to the LA Arboretum - making 3 trips down to LA with a total of 7 visits to the Huntington, one of which I was able to tour one of the closed paths through Hertich's original collection with the curator of the desert gardens and another when I got their specific permission to go off the paths and take images of "anything anywhere" - needless to say if it said "closed" I went through those areas extensively wherever they looked interesting and took well over a thousand images in that one session until overheating both myself and my camera. I have to thank a recently retired botanist friend for setting this up for me. I never dreamed such a thing was even possible and I do not think that it would have happened without his help and good words.) I've killed my faithful old Olympus by wearing it out but have a better one with a couple of nice lenses now. I'm still learning to use them but I am getting a handle on it.

If anyone wonders why those paths in the Huntington are closed and off-limits to the public it is to save people's lives due to the huge old plants of a number of sort that are in serious danger of toppling over and killing them without warning. I used to be upset they were closed but now understand how wise they were to do so while those plants are still standing. Some of them are really sketchy and life threatening places to be right now.

Its been a great year for getting images but now I've got something in excess of 15,000 new images to contend with relabelling and reformatting.

I'm going back in a couple of weeks for more from both Berkeley and the Huntington.

Call me crazy and I won't disagree.

Edited by trucha

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I've come to the conclusion that adding the name "T. macrogonus" into the mix just dirties the water more as if it is recognized it would probably have the same flower characteristics as both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian T. pachanoi and the fat blue and spiney central Peruvian T. peruvianus (i.e. Icaros, GF, Los Gentiles, etc.).

In fact if T. pachanoi and T. peruvianus have the same flower characteristics then one or the other name shouldn't exist and the proper name for all three of these "species" should be of the plant that was described first. Hell, there may be the possibility that T. macrogonus is the true name for all of these as the name preceeds both T. pachanoi and T. peruvianus which were both "sp. nov." (new species) in Britton & Rose's The Cactaceae.

But since the origins of "T. macrogonus" is so convoluted I think it should be removed from such possibility. But what to do about the primacy of T. pachanoi or T. peruvianus when they both are described in the same publication. I suppose the primary name would have to be the plant which they encountered and named first. Any idea which one they described first? You would think that if it was T. pachanoi that has primacy then the correct name for the central Peru plants would be something along the lines of "T. pachanoi sp. peruviana."

I've sort looked at the plant(s) commonly regarded as T. macrogonus as being in fact intermediaries between the Ecuador/Peru T. pachanoi and the thick blue T. peruvianus sorts of central Peru. But I have no information to suggest that what is commonly regarded as T. macrogonus actually has anything to do with the original published descriptions. I am very interested in reviewing Rauh's material, but have no access. Clearly Rauh's application of T. macrogonus to a plant in a particular location is just as bad as many calling such and such a plant T. macrogonus unless of course he was able to see the Berlin Botanical or Kew plant first.

Here's a little show of the intermediary status I see in what is commonly referred to as T. macrogonus:

1) T. pachanoi form common to Ecuador and Peru:


2) T. macrogonus from Osprey which I think comes from Sacred Succulents.


3) T. peruvianus from Bob Smoley. This is sort of a "soft" looking plant from my temperate environment, but I believe this plant would match the forms I mentioned above should it be grown in a hotter and sunnier location such as central Peru or southern California (in fact the base is much larger than this column and matches the fat T. peruvianus forms).


I'm fairly well done with "T. macrogonus" until the matter is cleared up. I'm with kt, the name is invalid. I generally will use T. pachanoi or T. peruvianus dependent really on nothing but the prevalence of spination, plant diameter, and glaucousness. Is this accurate? well no, but show me what is regarding these plants.

Alright, my work week starts tomorrow so I'm going to have to slow down till next weekend. I've focused so hard on cacti this weekend here and at The Nook that I'm completely frazzled. And Osprey, I know your reading and I haven't fogotten you. My procrastination will be well worth it I can assure you as I just took clipping of a plant that was trying to become decumbent on me.


Edited by M S Smith
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There is one very reliable segregator of peruvianus and pachanoi. That being the length of the tube being much shorter in peruvianus.

Intermediates (hybrids?) abound and tend more towards pachanoi in appearance.

I've not yet seen enough macrogonus flowers to know how it compares.

Flowers of cuzcoensis seem more distinct from these other four than they do from each other. Scopulicola even more so.

I'll be able to start uploading images in earnest in the near future.

I've had some problems getting it sorted out how to link to images in my galleries from inside of posts but some of those might be of interest to people in the meantime.

This is a good reason to start comparing all of our notes M, as I would not see any of those three as a macrogonus. At least not if they were typical of a larger plant. The lower two suggest hybrids. The upper one is what the HBG has among its Ecuadorian pachaoi collections if I am not mistaken.

I think that access to the Berlin material is where Rauh got his idea of what wild macrogonus looked like.

Does anyone know if the Berlin plant is still living and if photos are available?

I would also suggest that all of the names involved merely muddy the water. Permitting muddy water to settle with patience works best.

Edited by trucha
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Is the length of the tube enough to differentiate at the species level? Enough to make them distinct enough to be considered different species?

I would not see any of those three as a macrogonus. At least not if they were typical of a larger plant.

The plant in the second photo may not be typical of a larger plant simply due to the region in which I care for it (and the first and third photo weren't intended to represent the species). I'm sure you understand it isn't the best region to bring out their potential, but I sure do keep them pretty don't I? :)

Time to recipricate kt, I want to see a photo asap (just one, your pick) of the plant that best represents your understanding of T. macrogonus (this even though you yourself stated the names invalidity).

I do so which I had the capacity to study these plants to the degree you do, but honestly just growing them for their shear beauty would be enough for me. I'm not the jealous type at all, but you do manage to make it swell in me.

Ok, off to bed to dream of field of verdant green cacti.


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PS - I've done searches for photos of cacti at the "Berlin Botanical" without luck. B&R describe it as the"Botanical Garden at Belin", but what is the real name? Maybe if one uses the German name and spelling there might be better luck. I'll look it up and then try my hand in an internet search. Any help is appreciated.

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At this point there seems to be little use trying to define if something or anything really is or is not a species but rather to determine if there are predictable ways to tell any of them apart with reliability. At best jumping ahead to a conclusion is really premature.

That is what I mean by patience being the best way to deal with muddy water. Trying to get it to settle only creates more turbulence.

Collecting observations and waiting until we get enough information before drawing conclusions about what is or is not a species and how these closely related creatures relate is a much nicer and more productive path.

Based on what little i've seen macrogonus may have a shorter tube than peruvianus but I really lack enough observations to state that with any certainty.

Peruvianus does always have a shorter tube than pachanoi though. That is quite consistent for the Matucana types anyway whether compared to the predominate clone of pachanoi or to the smoother edged stuff in Peru or Ecuador.

I can't comment on what I have not yet seen.

Patience is the key if we don't want to just keep stirring the mud.

Let's keep collecting observations while we wait for the cloudiness to clear and try to reach a conclusion that involves all of us after the mud has settled.

A lot of good minds are here including you and me.

Monaco might have material from Berlin. Botanical Gardens that list their as just "South America" might be the same as Berlin's but without access to their accession data we have to judge their material with caution.

I'll get some assorted potential macrogonuses uploaded perhaps as soon as tonight.

Again at this point we should take it slow and amass data rather than conclusions.

We should though stick with the published description's limitations even if we call it into question throughout the process.

To sort this out patience and often playing the devil's advocate will be required if we don't want to just add more to the muddiness.

Let's have fun sorting this out.

We both have studied this a lot and both of us still know so little that I would suggest we should not take ourselves or each other very seriously and have some fun. When the mud settles I suspect we can create a far clearer picture than the world has previously seen.

Anyone else out there want to come play with us?

Edited by trucha

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M, if you are getting frazzled you might stop taking all of this so seriously and try have some fun with it. Let's see if I can get a laugh out of you?

To keep this in perspective here is what we are starting with.

Pachanoi lacks a meaningful floristic description in its original description. To say it is a sad joke is being polite. (Carlos Ostolaza does a nice job many years later)

In its ORIGINAL first description by Rose peruvianus' original description of the flower is said to be probably large and white since they did not see one. Is everyone laughing yet? No one has really done a nice definitive one yet (Ritter did a nice piece but merged pachanoi and peruvianus with no dividing line specified)

Macrogonus's floristic description is a sad joke if not actually talking about something else entirely as the accompanying drawing seems to suggest.

Bridgesii's floristic definition is not just a sad joke but we are supposed to call it lageniformis which has no florsitic description and lacks any collection data.

Hard to take any of that too seriously or even slightly seriously without driving one's self nuts. Its far better to find this amusing than infuriatingly appalling or frazzling. (imho)

Here is the imagery we are expected to start with:

Moderators please feel free to delete this or ask me to if the lack of copyright permission seems like a problem. I would like to ask people to refrain from posting links to this for that reason at least long enough to give everyone here a chance to see these before they get deleted

From macrogonus' original 1850 description (clearly the flower and fruit are either fanciful, imagined or as most believe involve another plant somehow superimposed on the macrogonus drawing):


From Backeberg (not sure where this was taken, perhaps Berlin, perhaps Monaco, perhaps in the wild but I am trying to find out):


From Backeberg showing Rauh's plant thought to be a wild form of macrogonus:


Stay tuned for some more recent images of materials that may be macrogonus. Let's suspend belief about anything to be true for the time being while we assemble more facts. I'll also post the Latin diagnostic and a translation for everyone's true amusement.

Edited by trucha

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Let's jump forward a hundred and fiftyyears or so.

These first ones are by Logan Boskey (I have permission to use these as I contracted Boskey to take them. The tip cutting was from a hardcore cactus collector.)



Seems like perhaps not too bad of a match for Salm-Dyck's plant in the drawing of the type assuming that we can overlook that pesky little flower and fruit issue.

Many more to come after I too have gotten some sleep.

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One thing I should probably ask is that we stick with macrogonus for now.

If we move into more convolutions at once this can become completely obscured. Such tedious multilayering and the fast lack of any possible resolution is why I get bored trying to discuss these things when people want to be serious about things we really don't understand yet. Its probably why the Nook is frazzling you.

I took a look at the Nook but were too many words and too little content there to even know where to start.

Its little wonder you are feeling frazzled. We should make this topic fun for you again. If you remember there was a time when that was true?

I want to have fun and learn something in the process not just rack up more words.

If we want to tackle the peruvianus and pachanoi thing that is fine but lets start another post for that or wait until we resolve one issue at a time as you already know that my feeling is that it is totally capricious to lump them and not include bridgesii. Which of course would take priority or pachanoi and peruvianus (although as lageniformis).

To answer the question about which comes first in terms of priority when two names appear in one paper: one always takes whichever one appears first. Peruvianus was named and entered into the herbaria record first but was published second (at least out of those two)

This is why bridgesii does not exist as Echinopsis bridgesii was described in the same paper as Trichocereus bridgesii making the latter now more properly called the "bottle-shaped hedgehog-looking" cactus AKA Echinopsis lageniformis

Should we start another post or leave that until we've explored this topic a bit?

My question in this post is really about what do we use to recognize a macrogonus. Not how it stands in relation to the others.

Let's take one step at a time if you really want to ever see this muddy water actually settle, please?

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seeds labelled paachanoi that ive grown all looked like Boskey's plant, these I consider macrogonus. It has definite spination different to kk242 and most of the seedlings showed great similarity, main differents being yellow/orange and red spines. All ended up much fatter then kk242 or PC pachanoi.

When talking about different possible species there are many which have shown trait stability from seed, bridgesii, kk242, macrogonus, cuzcoensis. Huasca and spachianus seem to be stable genetically aswell. I guess the most important thing is to pick some traits which are stable and differ between species and to then use that. Problem with plants grown in horticulture is they quickly loose some floristic characters, eg quite a few of my cultivated lophs have 2 and 3 stigmas, along way from the 5-6 that should be present, the character is reproducable on the individual plants though.

So what you need is wild specimums for a start.

Edited by teonanacatl

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Thanks for the photos, but what says that the 1850 plant isn't really a Cereus? Don't the fruit and flowers look like Cereus? What makes one think the Backeberg plant in the photos is any different than T. peruvianus? I don't know what to think of Rauh's plant?????? And the Logan Boskey plant, well my RS0005 looks nearly identical in growth when grown somewhere with stronger sunlight, and now the RS0005 is looking almost identical to the T. macrogonus I got from Osprey and comes from Sacred Succulents.

teonanacatl makes probably one of the best points, that these need to be observed in habitat to gain some real understanding of what they are as there are many factors that effect habits of growth. This is something brought up a million times and so it can be difficult to say that because plant A doesn't look like B (B having been grow in a different climate) A and B must be different plants. The thing is though they can be the exact same genetics.

Both DoNk and Anok both have these really flat bloated T. pachanoi from Peru that appear nearly spineless (you have some of these on the disk I sent you kt) but when grown here stateside they start to look like the plant commonly referred to as T. macrogonus. Check out the "Eve and Nicos" directory on the disk as well.

kt, you are much more of a scientist than I. I don't like muddy waters but if they were crystal clear I'd find a different pool. And I can assure you, I am not frazzled for lack of finding this fun. I live for this shit. I have a lot to do this week, and this mornings proceedings I have to tend to make all this look like childsplay, so I better attend to that.


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For the benefit of all here is a link to the Peruvian monster cutting threads. Anoks thread is linked at the top of Donks but some of his photos in both threads have bitten the dust. Membership is needed.


I don't know if I'm that excited about the change in girth they noticed, I've had no luck trying to keep the same girth with cuttings off a probably peruvianus aligned fat clone available locally, spination is quite different on this thinner growth as well. Scopulicola and aligned X's like Superpedro on the otherhand have given me no trouble at all. Trout mentioning peruvianus starting off as an understory plant has given me some new hope though, if I get the chance I'll try again in shade.

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This should all be child's play. Or we should try to keep it in that sandbox.

Most of what I see get written is tedious or worse and talks in circles around what we don't know without adequately stressing the fact that we really don't know. I have watched so many conclusions get written or posted over the years that its hard to know even what to think is anyone's opinion today without wading through more tedium talking around what is not known. Please forgive me if I am growing tedious here.

Hence my open question of what do we use to recognize something we almost all do recognize and MAYBE at the end of the process get us all onto the same page with regards to at least one plant.

Whether at the end we call it a species, a subpsecies, a cultivar, nothing at all or just Fred, it would be nice to reach some sort of generalized agreement. If its not possible we are wasting our time and should be doing something else entirely.

None of us have done any real field work, usually I could drop the "any" and be more correct, so in some senses its silly to even discuss it but we love cacti and are possessed of that wonderful tendency to find patterns whether they exist or not.

Still the fruit and flowers are believed by workers much closer to that day than us to be from a Brazilian plant mistakely associated with this one.

This sort of thing was quite common in early taxonomy sadly when plant parts from different vouchers were combined into single botanical drawings by someone other than the collector or describer. In some cases, perhaps even this one, botanical artists would CREATE flowers and fruit they thought might work based on other plants they had seen.

Few if any Cereus species have such broadly rounded ribs strongly suggesting this is a composite drawing.

The flower is clearly neither Cereus not Trichocereus. Cereus flower buds look like hairless Trich flower buds. This thing is not even close to either.

The fruit is of a sort much more broadly encountered than simply in Cereus and actually suggests other genera more than Cereus except for its nudeness.

One truly funny thing is that this drawing and description somehow served as an acceptable type for the entire genus Trichocereus. Go figure.

The best thing for us to do would be to abandon every single name we know and start over basing everything on rigorous field work but I can't in my wildest dreams imagine that will ever happen.

The description and its contained elements do say in no uncertain terms that it is not a Cereus species that is being described.

I need to finish the Latin translation which clearly shows the fruit and flower are not from the same plant as is being named.

What is truly funny about all of this is that despite the flower description being inadequate for a good unique definition, it is by far the best and most detailed original flower description of any of the other species mentioned anywhere above by any of us.

I'll come back to this farther along or if the loading time for this gets too slow due to images I'll continue in another post.

I get easily lost with too many posts though since I too lack adequate time to come out and play much of the time.

The most important thing for everyone to always keep in mind is that taxonomy is NOT a science.

It is a social and often political game of coming up with ways of talking about the same plants with the same names and defining how those plants might relate to each other.

It is a whole lot of opinions about what is significant or not even in terms of molecular systematics which is the only area I think is capable of becoming a true science. That could start a whole nother thread of course.

I do know how to do science since my line of study was chem, biochem and micro which are sciences and I was also employed doing biochemical research so I do know that this is not a science in the wildest stretches of the imagination.

If what we are doing is even marginally science we would not even be discussing this or looking at horticultural plants or inadequate descriptions or other people's photographs or even our own photographs but rather we would be focused on doing real field work to first locate what it was based on (in this case that would have to start in Europe sadly), then in the environs it is supposed to be from to learn what was in the real world, and then expanding it elsewhere if and as needed. Or reaching a point providing a real basis for tossing it in the rubbish can. This would be repeated for every plant we thought might be something whether at teh specific or subspecific level.

We could throw away pachanoi, peruvianus and bridgesii on even more substantial grounds but then there seems no point in discussing any of this.

If or when the waters can become clear we should all move on to watch the next muddy puddle settle as there would be nothing left to discuss here. That seems to be a good goal and is why I started this thread.

I'd suggest that this water can settle if we have patience and that there is no reason to embrace muddy water as a desirable state of being.

That is why having some fun in the process is better than tedium.

Of course one man's fun may well be another man's tedium.

It will likely be another day or two before I get the description translation completed and posted as I too work for a living and this stuff is something that I do for fun and amusement. I can;t say I live for it but certainly do enjoy it.

I LOVE science but I also love to shred bad science and poor methodology whether in or outside of science.

The latter is a lot more fun and educational than the first I think since science is far too often just stuffy and boring and not even real science.

The plants do not care at all what we call them, this is for us.

At least there is a positive move in your (MSS) reference to what we are discussing as shit. That is a truly healthy and quite realistic framework for us to start this undertaking.

The plant in images Boskey took (of my plant not his - he was just a photographer I hired when I still lacked a camera) often gets to around 5.5 inches in diameter. Perhaps larger but I have not ever seen it larger and its usually closer to 4.5 but can be much more slender when its not happy. Someone stole the mother from me and its offspring proved not to handle light freezes so I can't say too much more about it.

Backeberg's plant does not look much like a typical peruvianus to me in terms of its flower but its such a crappy image its hard to say too much about it other than it is a crappy photo.

The flower of macrogonus from what little I have seen is more the size of a puquiensis and a bit smaller than the Matucana peruvianus types. Hard to judge anything about even the column size in this image but I would expect a peruvianus to have more petals in the corolla.

The tube looks short. Shorter than is typical for the Matucana sorts at least if looking at the collapsing flower - probably from the day before the open one. I would hedge my bets though since no real details is possible.

THe Matucana peruvianus sorts tend to flower very near the tip rather than down the sides, although we all know these plants can seemingly do almost anything they want under some circumstances, and the macrogonus sorts seem to commonly like the sides as much as the tip. Hard to say very much about that image really other than it is a crappy picture.

My main point in including it was to summarize the immense difficulties of what we were given to work with.

I do know what to think about Rauh's image: Its a crappy photo too. Still it is important to include so we can glean a tiny bit of something about what Backeberg and Rauh were thinking about the Berlin plant that both of them saw in person.

Back to some images:

The next plant is at the Huntington.

Its value is compromised by the disappearance or lost or misplacing of their accession data.

A coule of things though make it important

1) It is said to be from South America, the same odd general or vague description of the Berlin plant. Many botanical gardens rightful regard themselves as botanical reference libraries and trade their books for that reason.

2) Its accession number is extremely low (three digits) suggesting it was a very early acquisition acquired back in Hertrich's day of creating the gardens. It COULD have come from Berlin although NY or some other place that got theirs as a cutting from Berlin is more likely as a plausibility. It is doubtful that they started it from seed due to the date it clearly would have had to have entered the collection.

Sadly I've never managed to be there when this specimen flowered. At least not yet.

We really do not know but when accessible genetics work becomes possible this one should high be on the testing list to compare to the material from Berlin. The work ongoing in Zurich might be helpful but let's see what she comes up with and what she looked at first before drawing a conclusion about that one way or the other.

Overall it is a nice match for the description. I'll post more soon on that point but want to honor the request from MSS for images instead of sticking to my original plan of laying hte groundwork of what descriptions we were given and then moving into images.

First though elements of macrogonus that are not typical of pachanoi.

Are areoles tend to be grey felted and largish but when really young can show brown or partial brown. This brown is not consitently expressed and seems to be limited to plants with serious shading as sun rapidly wipes out the color when it is even expressed.

The spines are always relatively short compared to the Matucana sorts of peruvianus and relatively long compared to pachanoi.

They are more awl shaped at least when new and usually show at least some clear centrals somewhere on the plant (something pachanoi generally lacks until we start getting to the intermediates/hybrids PERHAPS macrogonus wil turn out to be an intermediate but it seems premature to jump ahead without more info especially as we lack any evidence that pachanoi is really wild anywhere (in its earliest description one single area in Ecuador was conjectured as maybe having a wild population but this was challenged by later workers) and macrogonus, if we try to use the elements of how it is described rather than something more broad and seemingly pulled out of someone's ass somewhere, is fairly consistent and stable or at least it is as consistent and stable as any of the Matucana peruvianus sorts).

The spines are more consistently brown than pachanoi or peruvianus and only occasionally show any yellow or red and that on the base of the youngest spines only. Yellow shows up rarely at the base and is very short lived before becoming grey. Reddish is much more common.

We'll come back to all of this in more detail but here are some images of the Huntington plant with a focus on younger growth and form.





I'll be posting more images of this plants larger form too but as mentioned (partly due to living on a 28.8 dialup service)honoring the request for more images is delaying the more important part of posting descriptive elements since those are what we are supposed to use for recognition rather than a Ptolemic system of fitting the picture to our conclusions. Without hurting ourselves laughing I hope. I do intend to eventually turn to pachanoi, peruvianus and bridgesii for a roast also but one step at a time..

This material is reported to be potent but insanely slimey so most people avoid it. Which seems good since stealing from botanical gardens is like stealing library books. It cheats all of us and the people who will come after us when we are all worm food.

Another macrogonus that gives South America as its point of origin is at the Strybig or I should say was at the Strybig.

Plant thieves had kept it hacked off to a bit more than ankle height suggesting a good potency had been established. It looks a lot like what I've grown from Koehres seed but the latter does not see consistent from one lot to another over the years.

It and many other nice trichs at the Strybig are now completely stolen and gone leaving only their signs.


This is what remains


Gary Lyons made an interesting point about thievery at the Huntington. While it does still occur he commented that the single biggest decrease in theft occurred when they raised admission price to $18 as this kept the "riff-raff" out.

Admission to the Strybig is still free of charge.

This is the RS0004. It originated via horticultural channels.



This next plant is growing at Sasha's


This next one (the last for this morning) is something Voogelbreinder found unlabelled in Vic. but it more or less fits the theme of the above. I do have his permission to use it.


I too need to get my day moving with checking emails and getting to work. Uploading these images swallowed up almost all of my available time this morning which is why I really want to try to focus on groundwork first and then a photo survey of what is out there. The immense amount time it has taken me this morning to finish what I started last night has actually precluded me more than quickly reading the posts above so I will have to do a more thorough job of that tonight and will respond to the comments offered. Thanks to everyone who is participating!

Back with some more unless I begin to bore people at which case please tell me to piss off and leave this alone.

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My best guess, its just a guess as I have not asked him, is that Bob Smoley gets his macrogonus seeds from Koehres.

Sacred Sucuclents gets their macrogonus seeds from Koehres.

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Ok, i was gonna shut up, sit back and learn, but i had to throw in my 2Cents, not an opinion really but more a reason why i gave up on IDs other than the bleeding obvious bridge or pach.

Here are some pictures for you to ponder.


First off, the mother plant, which i have posted pictures of in the ID subforum HERE


Here is one cut after i had it rooted and growing.


And here is the new growth from the first season.

as you can see, from mother to clone the change in appearance in alot as are all the growing conditions that affect these appearances. Thats why i find IDs so difficult, there are so many factors that can make even the most ordinary pach look like something special or different.

BTW, im positive the plant pictured is a seed grown hybrid but like i have mentioned before i really need to sit down with the grower and ask him a million questions. I did ask him where he thought the "backeberg clone" originated from and i was suprised when he told me that too was a hybrid as far as he knew. Although walking through a large planting talkin about the origins of plants whilst drooling i sometimes slur my words and might not be heard properly and he does say that alot of plants are just hybrids, i guess in reality they prolly are. I will be visiting him again in the next week so i will try sit down and have a REAL chat lol.

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There is no telling which of any of these might not be a hybrid even in the wilds.

Friends who spent years travelling in Peru and Ecuador tell me that the predominate ccultivar in the US is widespread in Ecuador but used more for fencing than anything else.

The HBG thing MSSmith shows from Ecuador is more interesting to me as it suggests an intermediate status.

The bottom line is we know very little with any certainty about any of these.

Did pachanoi itself start out as a mutant selectively propagated or was it always what is was (the smooth edged one not the mythological Backerg clone thing I would prefer to call pachanoi PC)?

I'm diverging though and should start another post on pachanoi.

I welcome hearing about pachanoi and pachanoids but lets keep this thread about macrogonus and put any any answers or comments to those questions of mine there or we are going to obscure this thread.

I'd like to hope no one out there sits back and shuts up.

I'll keep playing the devils advocate and bringing back up the naming constraint we are supposed to use and why what I or anyone else posts may or may not fit them but I have no agenda (or fixed conclusions) other than having fun and hopefully with everyone's help watching these muddy waters settle someday.

Please don't let that intimidate you (anyone and everyone). As was said so many years ago "We are all Bozos on this bus."

We can't learn the whole picture if we don't all play.

Edited by trucha

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I'm not surprised that fat thing of Donk's grew spines as it had it spines removed.

Is there a picture of it WITH spines?

Most people speaking of Huancabamba are talking about the more famous pedro zone. This is where shamans congregate, and where Friedberg did her work.

Plenty of short spined and long spined pachanoiperuvianus intermediates around there since there are many shamans who are plant specialists cultivating them and other magic plants. This is a quite complex subject that is divergent to how to recognize a macrogonus. We can start another thread on Huancabamba if people want?

One reason pedro people targeted being there is that it is remote and has always been a pain to get to. This permtted them to largely be left alone from the intense persecution that existed from the inquisition onwards even into the 1950s. In Ecuador Sharon found evidence this fear still exists todaybut that is a divergent topic we should start yet another thread on if anyone is intereted.

The socalled short spined peruvianus from Mesa Garden came from there (and is clearly a pachanoi)

I hope to have flower pictures within a day or two if the plant and my schedule can both cooperate.

I'd like if possible to focus on macrogonus and its identifiers rather than simply adding more diversity.

but whatever it takes its fun to play.

MS Smith's question on the original description does need some comment.

First the flowers and fruit were likely added by the artist doing the drawing.

What a lot of people don't realize is that the original description of macrogonus was not one description but two descriptions (one after the other) of two clearly different plants. Those flowers and fruit are perhaps of the second but perhaps imaginary based on an artists rendition of the wording.

If we stick to the original description (which I'll have posted here as soon as I finsihed muddling through the latin) it is clear that that flower and fruit aren't what it describes.

For one the fruit lacks furrows and the flower lacks triangular meaty scales on a wooly ovary which are in fact clearly stated in the description of macrogonus itself.

In fact the description not only says the ovary is wooly but also describes the tube itself as thick and meaty and proportionally short but I need to work on getting through this translation.

I'd like to see more examples (ideally in person) but so far what we can probably safely glean is that macrogonus will have a short thick tube with a hairy ovary.

This next image is also in that same creative drawing


That flower is not even remotely a Cereus or a Trichocereus of course.

The stigma too is wrong for either one even unspread.

I'm going to try and spend more time on getting this Latin diagnosis punched out (I really do not like Latin as I have to battle my way through it on my best of days but most especially when it from an earlier century - it may be a dead language but that does not mean everyone uses it the same way when it comes to botanical terms) and I also intend to post a summary of the published descriptions.

This may help this discussion since it seems like many people are creating their own descriptions based on unclear sources of information.

For instance, if the description says spines brown from the start, plants showing strongly consistent yellow bases seem a bit odd to include as a macrogonus without some sort of reason given as to why they are macrogonus or upon what that determination rested. Ideally based on published descriptions of some sort?

Or at the least why this name was chosen or how strongly yellow bases with dark tips came to mean a macrogonus. They sure are beautiful.

Koehres seems a common source of these.

They have sold several different things over the years as macrogonus. I have not yet learned where any of them came from. Koehres buys seeds from Knize as many wholesale purchasers do so perhaps that factor is to blame.

Knize sells MANY amazing plants but his ability to correctly identify anything based on the published descriptions leaves something to be desired.

I'd be happy to go into this in some serious detail but that should be in its own thread.

I meant to have all of this done already but got carried away dealing with images. I live in the sticks with seriously slow dialup (I'm thrilled to get on at 28.8 sometimes it more like 5.6kb/s) so for me to upload images would be much more effecient if everyone was patient with me while I get them together and upload them when I get down the the Bay near a broadband connection.

I love you M and your passion for cacti but jumping ahead to conclusions is not what we need to reach resolution. Instead it leads to a circular defensiveness that precludes clear vision. I greatly do appreciate you and everyone else sharing images please keep it up but let's also stay with my question if possible.

I'd suggest we all try to start at ground level and justify/qualify * what features are used for recognizing these species * and ideally where these qualifiers came from.

In this post let's try to stay on macrogonus as much as we can please.

If people have truly dismissed it and created their own innovative versions I am not sure that helps the picture but it is better for us all to know about it than not of course.

The most important thing for all of us to keep in mind, me, M and everyone else, is we really know very little about a lot of these plants with any degree of certainty. I mean how far back can any of us trace the lineage of what we have with certainty?

If it bears a KK number or if Knize turns out to be its source I'd suggest it might be best if just tossed in the taxonomic trashheap and ignored for now. Not the plants just their consideration as something meaningful for assinging names.

SOME few things we know some accession data on but those are not the majority.

Lets keep collecting and collating our data and see what ends up and above all lets not take ourselves too seriously.

This mess is a bona fide joke so we should have fun figuring out just how bad of a joke it is.

If these all get addressed here at once we will end up in that horribly unworkable morass I encountered at the Nook.

Just trying to discuss something involving many different plants at once is completely a mess.

I'd like to keep this one for discussing the recognition features we use for macrogonus as much as possible although obviously our discussions can never be totally pure.

Maybe eventually we can create a table of the ranges of characteristics for each?

Then someday maybe a taxonomic key. Now I've got myself laughing. Its worth the effort no matter where the dust settles.

I created several posts here, one for each of the major names we know and love.

I'll add more as needed.

For now here is a picture of the huge plant at the Huntington. I can't even count its branches.

Many more will come after I've got the core data base posted.


In the course of helping try to locate a pachanoi demonstrably from Backeberg Evil Genius came across one truly intriguing comment from an old time grower in Germany of there being a macrogonusXpachanoi that was thought to be in horticulture from Backeberg's hand. We have not found it yet, at least so far as I know, but this seems worthy of mentioning.

Borg (I think it was Borg) also mentions a macrogonus crest is in cultivation.

One of Evil Genius' crests seems to fit the description for macrogonus but of course we will need more data before reaching any certain conclusions.

There is now an image poasted under the post titled "terminal weirdness"

I hope to actually be DOING field work at some point so if a wild population exists let's figure out where it might be.

Edited by trucha

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One key segregator for macrogonus setting it apart from peruvianus (at least as defined in its description)

Macrogonus has one solitary central spine. These are not always present on all areoles but are someplace on the plant.

If its got two its something else if we are basing names on the description of the person who came up with the name.

If it has just one that alone does not mean it is a macrogonus but if its got more than one it does not fit into the description for macrogonus.

One thing I should make clear about the San Pedro book is that its naming aspects are intended only to chronicle the confusion existing in horticulture and only discusses wild populations as relates to that so it should not be extrapolated beyond that as I have done no field work.

Only field work is meaningful when it comes to knowing what is actually out there.

Basing anything entirely on photos can lead one far astray if overvalued. They can have great value but there are limits to that since by nature the data pool will be limited to what is available not what is really in the wild. Most pictures I have seen have been taken of plants in cultivation in South America or near trails, roads, waterways or railways. Few people do exploration like Ritter which is why we have such a liimited viewing pool of what is out there.

Some care must be take too so far as assigning names. A BUNCH of poorly defined trichs exist around Cuzco yet I have seen several decidedly noncuzcoensis get accepted by people and their photos posted online as cuzcoensis on the basis of their being found around Cuzco. Some of what is around there are weak but some are quite potent. It seems a nice area for a lengthy visit if people want to tackle and interesting area of trichocereus yet to be elucidated. I may need to create a cuzcoensis post at some point but what is here seems increasingly large to deal with unless I stop working my day job.

Something that I cannot stress enough is that I am not trying to justify or defend any of these four names as species I just want to try and define the names as used and as published.

I personally doubt any of them are really separate species but names should have some degree of meaning.

I'm just trying to figure out what people mean since there are clearly at least several definitions being used for each of several of them.

Edited by trucha

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One key segregator for macrogonus setting it apart from peruvianus (at least as defined in its description)

Macrogonus has one solitary central spine. These are not always present on all areoles but are someplace on the plant.

If its got two its something else if we are basing names on the description of the person who came up with the name.

If it has just one that alone does not mean it is a macrogonus but if its got more than one it does not fit into the description for macrogonus.

But if the plant on which the original discription was based was a plant in cultivation that can not be determined to represent the plant as grown in Peru (or wherever in South America) how can we be sure that the species is defined (limited) by how it is represented in collection? How can we say that nothing with two central spines can be T. macrogonus if T. macrogonus as it exists outside of its botanical deposit is in such question. It is not as though anyone has said that the plant which was used as the basis for the species title has been verified as living in such and such a region and is quite surely the same plant as that in Berlin.


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Taxonomy is not a science. It is game about naming organisms with unique identifiers that permit their identification and aid in permitting us to classify how they might relate to each other.

That means that anyone can play. Myron Kimnach once told me that a taxonomist was defined as anyone with an interest in the names of plants. Its largely only a bunch of opinions. A famous saying is that opinions are like assholes, we all have one and they all stink. Even Gordon Rowley has said "Its all in the head" so its not worth taking overly seriously.

Taxonomy is about opinions rather than science (any system of classification will always be arbitrary in at least some aspects) but its supposed to be based on logic and rules.

I'd like to discuss that a little bit.

All games worth playing have some sorts of rules including this one. In this case the rules were are obliged to follow in the naming of organisms is called the Rules of Nomenclature. Despite it being in need of updating to bring more rigor to the picture (rather than less), this is a nicely defined set of rules outside of its assorted grandfatherings to permit the continued use of older names that no longer would be permitted as proposed - and creating a lot of work that no botanist wants to take on. (This is a major source of the problems we encounter with the trichs and probably one of the three or four largest source of our problems.)

As was just mentioned, by its nature taxonomy is a game of people offering their opinions and describing 'new' plants they have given a name to. If others agree, that name can find acceptance.

If they don't that name becomes rejected and added to the mountain of discarded names on that huge nomenclatural trash heap.

It is however not permitted in taxonomy to rename other plants using a name for which that name was not intended or appplicable.

Where this becomes pertinent to our discussion and to Michael's quite sound questions:

The name macrogonus was based on that one very lonely plant in Berlin. Otto apparently was the first to employ it but I can locate no details as apparently Salm-Dyck was the first to use it in print. Its unclear if it should have been called macrogonus Salm-Dyck ex Otto or not but it was not.

However, the important fact that needs to be kept in mind is that the name macrogonus or macrogona can't be applied any farther without first identifying a wild population that contains a plant that matches the plant as described (as obviously BR&R, Backeberg and Rauh thought had occurred) and ideally that population would only have plants that match that description or if not those others are very close. Trichs aren't idealists obviously.

Once a match is established then you can look for variations within that population and expand the description based on those plants to incorporate those deviations.

The encountered variability known from trichs is not a problem so long as a plant can be proven to exist within that populations showing only the stated characteristics of the description. Despite thnking it premature to draw solid conclusions, I have little doubt (based on floristic features) that macrogonus, bridgesii, pachanoi and peruvianus are within one species.

There are however plants that do appear to fit the description for macrogonus and don't have more than one central but do have one central. This criteria of Salm-Dyck would have been a criteria for BR&R, Backeberg and for Rauh also in terms of their view.

This is not the only feature in the description that we have to include in our assessment if we want the use of the name macrogonus to mean anything.

Medium large round to oval areoles filled with grey felt, no hair at the apex, a hairy ovary, a short, thick and meaty floral tube with triangular scales and hairs, meaty triangular podaria with the points 'holding the rounded portions hostage' and other features are also stated.

The use of the term "awl-shaped' (modern authors prefer the synonym subulate ie tapering from a narrow or moderately broad base to a fine sharp point) entered only later probably to help differentiate this from peruvianus which is often referred to as acicular by modern authors (needle shaped ie narrow, stiff and pointed).

The original description simply referred to the centrals thick and finely pointed which means essentially the same thing of course.

In retrospect, its really a lousy description if it was intended to create a unique description but better in fact than the description for pachanoi or for peruvianus or for bridgesii or even for lageniformis.

Still it might have been adequate if compared to what else was known at the time. Its really difficult to step inside of someone's mind who was living and describing a plant in the late 1840s. Especially if the people doing the describing were living in Europe and paying other people to go on collection expeditions FOR THEM. (And that is the reality of the days when cactus collecting was the sport of wealthy nobility with an obsession for the bizarre not us mere mortals.)

From today's point of view its a simple matter to say, "Look at all these other plants! Clearly that description was inadequate, poorly based and ideally needs to be rejected."

I don't disagree but would suggest it capricious to take that stance and not also simultaneously shitcan all of the other four names I just mentioned above as their descriptions are every bit as inadequately defined as macrogonus - actually more so in fact.

It seems a touch odd to want to create a definition or at least use a name based on seemingly nothing more than rejecting the original definition.

Its certainly sound if anyone wants to just reject it but its specifically forbidden by the rules of nomenclature to recycle any specific name previously used (at least in the same genus or a synonym it was transferred into).

Meaning that if rejecting macrogonus as invalid, the name macrogonus (or the simple variants such as macrogona) cannot be used for another plant. (The word macrogonoid could be used legally if adequately described and shown to be linked to a wild population - we now thankfully have more rigorous requirements in place than in Sam-Dyck's day.)

I guess if wanting to approach this like someone like Knize who is strictly a horticultural salesman, anyone can call anything whatever they want since no one in botany or taxonomy takes Knize seriously if they have taken a look at his plants or names. There are no rules to horticultural naming systems as Rowley's fun treatment of Lophophora ilustrates (I at least assume he was just joking?)

However, if this is the situation as in the cases detailed in the presented images above they would need to variously call those views macrogonus sensu MS Smith and macrogonus Hort. sensu Kohres or perhaps macrogonus Hort. sensu Knize depending on the actual source defining them and regard these as horticultural offerings having nothing to do with macrogonus itself rather than just stirring more mud into the water.

To define the designations in these proper and acceptable terms:

Hort. means it is a horticultural offering. If it is an undescribed name appearing in a catalog that originating company name will immediately follow the word Hort. (Ex. Lophophora jourdaniana Hort Rebut)

sensu means it is being used in a divergent sense intended by someone other than the primary describer.

For instance an example familiar to most of us is Banisteriopsis rusbyana sensu ethnobotanists for Diplopterys cabrerana. This is correct since Banisteriopsis rusbyana is a completely different plant but this mistake was widely propagated and encountered in the ethnobotanical literature due to people not liking to have to question authorities and thus this error is now largely obscured by the respected experts who repeated it.)

The Rules of Nomenclature is available online and is a very useful reference for how to play the name game.

People may have noticed I have little interest in assigning new names but instead am wanting to sort out the old ones and determine how they apply to reality, what they were intended to mean and how they are now used. I am collecting data and trying to draw as few conclusions as possible. Obviously I have reached a couple of conclusions in that process.

My personal suspicion is that very few will actually turn out to be real species and none of these four mentioned above will demonstrably be separate species one we gather all of our facts and genetics work begins.

According to the Rules of Nomenclature the name we are stuck with is Foerster's lageniformis which also was so appallingly published and described that I have trouble using it so will stick to thinking of them all as bridgesii sensu latu (ie bridgesii in the broadest sense) while realizing this is a horticultural name not a species name.

That they all need a new name and all need to be given some sort of subspecific status is the bottom line (imho).

MAYBE cuzcoensis and some others are separate but we really are going to have to wait until the genetics work is done for any real conclusions.

Edited by trucha

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This is all I could drag up. I don't even know if it was rooted when this happened so it might not be a good example, more of a cutting flower and it's been reluctant to flower since.

The fruit was an odd one. It just sat there and refused to ripen and when the flower started going black I was scared it was rot so I picked it right after the photo was taken and it still produced viable seed.



Edited by strangebrew

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Cool photos! What was the source of the cutting? Any idea where they got their mother plant from?

I'm still perplexed no one using yellow spines with black tips can comment on why this is used for their identifying a macrogonus despite the question being repeatedly asked by several of us?

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Glad to see you back, trucha.

I don't get to the forums as often lately, and it seems I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for these 'How to' threads, and for stimulating the discussion in general. I have a few photos on disc that I'll try to send you soon. This year's flowers included the RS0004 macrogonus (unusually short floral tube), and that old '242' pachanoid from Knize finally flowered too (very long, thin flower).

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