Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Kautsky Brazilian Christmas Cactus, Relative of Cultivated Hybrids


Summary: The Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus, remote, wild relative of cultivated hybrids, is endangered by collectors, cultivators, developers and extractors.


closeup of Schlumbergera kautskyi's flower: sadambio, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus assumes a low-profile existence outside mountainous homelands in the coastal southeast Brazilian states of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais as the lesser known relative of cultivated hybrids.
Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cacti bear close ties to the four wild southeast Brazilian Christmas cactuses behind the cultivated hybrids that bedazzle the Northern Hemisphere's holiday plant-lovers. They claim non-overlapping homelands with micro-cylinder-like Brazilian Christmas cacti and with the cactus pad-like, Orsich's, Russell's and truncated Brazilian Christmas cactuses that contribute to commercialized cultivars. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes Brazilian Christmas cacti as endangered by habitat loss from land developers and population decline from specialty collectors.
Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus habitats at 2,952.76- to 4,265.09-foot (900- to 1,300-meter) altitudes above sea level entice eucalyptus tree cultivators, granite rock extractors and residential developers.

Collectors Frédéric Schlumberger (April 19, 1823-Feb. 18, 1893) and Roberto Anselmo Kautsky (May 23, 1924-May 25, 2010) furnish Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus' scientific name, Schlumbergera kautskyi.
Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactuses, given subspecies status by John F. Horobin and A.J.S. McMillan and then species status by Nigel Paul Taylor, grow epilithically (on rocks). They huddle predominantly on rocks, and rarely as epiphytes on semi-shaded trees, in cool, high-altitude south Atlantic forests humidified by condensation of moist, rising, warm air. Endemic incidence exclusively to two parks and nearby municipalities involves respectively estimated minimums and maximums under 3.86 and 193.05 square miles (10 and 500 square kilometers).
Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus populations jump from Minas Gerais's Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó (National Park of the Vine [Covered] Mountain Ridge) to Espírito Santo.

Espírito Santo keeps populations in Alfredo Chaves, Domingos Martins and São Bento de Urânia municipalities and in Parque Estadual da Pedra Azul (Blue Stone State Park).
Wild specimens look similar in both states, with flattened, green, leafless, photosynthetic, segmented stems called cladodes, sharp-toothed along the edges and truncated into cut-off, non-pointed ends. The 0.87- to 1.58-inch- (2.2- to 4.0-centimeter-) long, 0.55- to 0.98-inch- (1.4- to 2.5-centimeter-) wide stem segments maintain terminally brown wool and short bristles called areoles. Areoles nurture buds whose cyclamen-purple, 1.97-inch- (5-centimeter-) long flowers, 0.98 inches (2.5 centimeters) across, nod slightly above the horizontal into radially asymmetrical higher- and lower-sided zygomorphism.
The shorter, unconnected outer tepals of 20 to 30 undifferentiated petals and sepals occur toward the base and the fused, longer inner tepals toward the tips.

Self-fertilized flowers present inner stamens basally fused into tubes, outer stamens proliferating along inner tepal-formed, nectar-filled floral tubes and red styles with six- to eight-lobed stigmas.
Self-fertilization, without pollinating hummingbirds, quickens production of elongated, fleshy, four-angled, non-explosive, pulpy, red-tinged, sometimes ribbed, sometimes smooth, wildlife-friendly, yellow-green, 0.98-inch- (2.5-centimeter-) long, 0.75-inch- (1.9-centimeter-) wide fruits. Self-pollination results in the steady production of 150 very dark brown, 0.04-inch- (1-millimeter-) long and wide seeds by every fruit on a Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus. It separates Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cacti populations, whose remote mountainous homelands straggle at altitudes from which southeast Brazil's hummingbirds shy, from their cultivated and wild relatives.
Panoramic remoteness high up tempts collectors, eucalyptus plantation cultivators, granite rock extractors and residential developers and threatens the Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus, relative of cultivated hybrids.

Parque Estadual da Pedra Azul (Blue Stone State Park) claims native populations of Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera kautskyi); Espírito Santo, southeastern Brazil; Sept. 4, 2006:  Apgaua Moreno Furtado de Sousa, CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
closeup of Schlumbergera kautskyi's flower: sadambio, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A1jl:Kautskyi.jpg
Parque Estadual da Pedra Azul (Blue Stone State Park) claims native populations of Kautsky Brazilian Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera kautskyi); Espírito Santo, southeastern Brazil; Sept. 4, 2006:  Apgaua Moreno Furtado de Sousa, CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/apgaua/234168481/sizes/l

For further information:
McMillan, A.J.S.; and Horobin, J.F. 1995. Christmas Cacti: The Genus Schlumbergera and Its Hybrids. Sherbourne, Dorset: David Hunt.
"Schlumbergera kautskyi (Horobin & McMillan) N.P. Taylor - Christmas Cactus." Encyclopedia of Life.
Available @ http://www.eol.org/pages/5184916/overview
"Schlumbergera kautskyi (Horobin & McMillan) N.P. Taylor." Tropicos® > Name Search.
Available @ http://www.tropicos.org/Name/5108098
"Schlumbergera kautskyi (Horobin & McMillan) N.P. Taylor in Bradleya 9:90 (1991)." Rhipsalis.com.
Available @ http://rhipsalis.com/species/kautskyi.htm
Taylor, N.P.; and Zappi, D. 2013. "Schlumbergera kautskyi." The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e. T40873A2939316. http://dx.doi/org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T40873A2939316.en.
Available @ http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/40873/0

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