Mother in Laws cushion.
It’s not hard to see how it might have got its name!
Mexican Mother in Laws must live in fear, as this great and easy to care for houseplant hails from Mexico.
Echincactus along with its close cousin Ferocactus share a common name – Barrel Cactus and to be truthful it is not hard to see why.
It was first described by Heinrich Hildmann, who was a plant enthusiast who had a cactus nursery in Birkenwerder just outside Berlin.
Echincarpus grusonii grows in the wild at altitudes of 1400m and so it is growing upstairs at Enthusiast Towers to make it feel at home!
As the name suggests Echincarpus grusonii grows as a barrel, or indeed as a sphere. Somewhat alarmingly they can get to a metre in height, which would thus take up much of the windowsill!
They are long lived, having an expected lifespan of 30 years, although they rarely flower at under 20 years old.
There are distinct ribs, which have rows of spines, indeed it the can be up to 35 of these ribs.
The flowers are quite small, and yellow, following the flowering a seed head forms, which obviously can allow for propagation however the seedlings do have quite a range of characterises with some forms almost spineless.
It is also one of the most popular cacti in cultivation, which may explain why my specimen was liberated from Ikea, rather than a specialist nursery.
The house is cold in the winter and it survives in a cool room very well, (indeed they are reported to be able to survive light frosts)
It is left unwatered in the winter, and watered more generously in the summer.
Echincarpus grusonii s an award winner having been awarded the RHS AGM – Award of Garden Merit.
So why is the particular one in our 100 Houseplants, well, just look at the spines, which are more decorative in close up than a unicorns horn…