Astrophytum myriostigma

My brain buzzes with thoughts of my new house: a new kitchen and bathroom to plan; a small (hurrah!) garden to design; installation of a woodburner and log store; shelves and storage solutions; furniture to buy; and tantalisingly, tucked up under the eaves like a monk’s cell, a study.  My first.  We haven’t moved yet and don’t even have a moving date but I’ve hardly touched my camera recently, let alone pressed its normally seductive button.  Obviously, with limited resources, there simply hasn’t been room in my head for blogging as well.

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But then on Friday, I was vacantly splashing water about in one of the Priory greenhouses (helps to keep the humidity up and the red spider mite down), humming the Flintstones theme, when a little something temporarily drove all thoughts of house-moving away.  Yabba dabba doo.

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One of my cacti has produced a small, single flower.  The cactus is bishop’s cap or bishop’s mitre or bishop’s hood or monk’s hood … or Astrophytum myriostigma.  And, for the first time in ages, I fetched my Nikon.

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In late summer, my eye roves about the grounds and I worry about what needs doing next (answer – a lot); tut at myriad disappointments; fret over the partially collapsed wisteria arbour (it’ll be repaired in the autumn but meanwhile sits drunkenly upon a cunningly positioned plank) and curse ceaseless rain which makes mowing impossible and lawns ankle-deep.  And I’m mulling over several imminent big-jobs: cutting the beech hedging, re-cutting the mixed hedging, cutting the long meadow grass and – easily the worst – strimming.  Endless bloody strimming.

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With all that going on, it is all too easy to overlook a little plant that sits year-long, unremarkable, boring even, imperceptibly growing but then suddenly, with no fanfare, produces something quite exquisite.  Not a bad life for a plant I suppose and one, that at the moment, makes me rather jealous.


(My Mexican cactus lives in the greenhouse all year round.  In summer, I net the glass against harsh sun and in winter, switch on the heaters against frost.  I water A. myriostigma sparingly in summer but not at all during the winter.  I use a home-made, sharply draining 40:60 mix of grit and potting compost.  I ought to feed it a little every two weeks in summer but that doesn’t happen.  Every couple of years, I might remember to re-home it into a slightly larger pot.  But then again, I might not.  In short, it is neglected).

17 thoughts on “Astrophytum myriostigma

  1. Oh, what a charmer! (The cactus.) (Too.) Glad it prompted you to pick up the camera. My little potted hedgehog cactus blooms one day a year (sometimes two!) and is totally worth it. The bees practically swim in the flowers–cactus pollen must be heady stuff. (Did I make exactly that same comment a few years ago?)

    Best wishes on all the hedge-trimming and such. And congratulations on almost having a study!


    • It is especially satisfying if a cactus flowers for a whole two days isn’t it? My one has two more buds! I’m trembling with the thrills and excitement of this particular flowering roller coaster. And please feel free to make the same comment over and over (my memory isn’t what it was anyway). The owner has just left after a long stay and so all the big, noisy jobs can now start. Whooppee. D p.s. almost having a study. Four such sweet words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well I must say I have never understood the attraction of cacti, they are boring most of the time, prickly all of the time and positively resist being cared for by dying of overwatering.
    BUT… This photo shows what fascination they can hold, well done !


  3. Hi Dave sympathise with putting garden to bed for the winter….a v rewarding job once finished and tucked in for the long winter ahead. Thank you for camera and lens tips…..somehow I don’t think technology will be all I need. You must have a lot of patience to take some of those remarkable shots, Love to you both, Jo


    • Thanks Jo and good luck with the photography. If it’s any help, I would simply advise taking lots of photos and then taking lots more. You’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t and can concentrate on areas that you’re having problems with, eg depth of field, exposure, sharpness and the like. If you’re camera manual is anything like mine (Fat!) it is far too big to read all at once. Much better to dip into and master one area at a time. Dave


  4. In the wild, these succulents thrive on nature’s equivalent of neglect. I always think it a bit odd when someone goes wild because their cosseted cactus has, after “resting” for a decade, decided to flower or something. Your bishop’s hat is probably grateful for the treatment it’s getting. Carry on neglecting it and it will do what it does, whenever it wants to do it. Cosset it and it will give you a couple of upward pointing fingers and do what it does, whenever it wants to do it.

    And good luck with the move.


  5. What an extraordinary pillow shaped cactius,even without the flower it would be eye-catching. I don’t don’t much about cacti, but I understand and wish you well with the whirlwind of excitement and preoccupations of moving house ….


  6. It’s always a delight when these little ho-hum plants suddenly send up blossoms. I have little spiny cacti that send out hot-pink and white stars in spring. Mine are also quite neglected, but still they reward. 🙂


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