Coryphantha elephantidens (Lem.) Lem., subsp. greenwoodii (Curly Wurly)

Coryphantha elephantidens subsp. greenwoodii "Curly Wurly"
Fig. 1

This plant (Fig. 1) is in a friend’s collection in the USA. Photographed in 2014, it was a huge plant even then, and is much bigger now, and apparently so heavy that it is unliftable. A normal plant that you could expect to see in a UK collection is shown here (Fig. 2) so that you can see the difference.

Every tuft of wool ends in a ringlet which gets longer as the plant grows older, hence the nickname Curly Wurly! It’s the only plant of this species that I have ever seen do this. The plant does produce offsets but these are always removed to allow the head to get bigger.

Coryphantha elephantidens subsp. greenwoodii "Curly Wurly"
Fig. 2

I do not ever expect to get a plant as beautiful as this one and certainly never one as big. It has the usual yellow flowers of a Coryphantha and it tends to flower later in the year as most of this genus does, generally in August/September. There are only a few species that flower earlier in the year. They are generally slow growers and many of the genus will not flower until perhaps 10 years old.

One of the most important things I have found is that they need to be dunked well early in the spring. Their first watering should be in a tray and the pot should be left for several hours to make sure the root ball gets really wet. This will give them a good kick start for the year, otherwise I find they do not seem to get going properly.

Text and photos by Kathy Flanagan

No part of this article may be reproduced without permission. Copyright BCSS & the Author 2024

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