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Ashingtonia Volume 1 number 5, March 1974

by A. F. H. Buining in Fedde, Repertorium 42: 6-7, 1937

While Frailea phaeodisca has a fusiform long root, Frailea asterioides has a napiform root. The latter grows 10-20mm high above ground with a diameter of 40-45mm. The number of ribs which I could determine from many plants on their habitats is 12-13 (-15). They are very flat and not divided into tubercles although sometimes slightly raised around the areoles. The colour of the epidermis is normally chocolate-brown, but we found also plants in Argentina that were green to dark green coloured. The areoles are round and up to 2mm in diameter, sometimes a little longer with age, at first covered by brown shiny felt-like hairs but later on they are naked, separated from each other on the rib by 2-3mm. The spines are at first shiny brown with a lighter tip but soon become dull brownish black to dull black, rough textured, all pointing downwards to the plant, sometimes a single one points upwards, 1-3mm long, only rarely is a central spine present. The flower is funnelform and 30mm long and wide (when closed about 40mm long); the pericarp is 7.5mm long and 6mm wide and the receptacle 8-9 mm long, both with brown bristles and greyish white hairs; the seed chamber is 4mm long and 3.5mm wide with an empty cavity beneath; the nectary is 0.5mm wide at the base of the style and filaments, open and red in colour; the outer and inner perianth segments are both spathulate and shining golden yellow; the primary stamens lie parallel with the style and are 14mm long with red bases; the secondary stamens arise from the inner receptacle wall, 7-8mm long, creamy-white in colour with reddish bases and 1mm long anthers; the style is 17mm long and 0.8mm thick greenish white with an 8-lobed white stigma, curling and 3.5mm long. The fruit is somewhat flattened globose, 9mm high and 13mm across, yellowish green at first but later with a thin dried skin, naked at the base but with areoles and 1 -2mm long brown bristles higher up and greyish white hairs, the bristles are curved, even hooked. The seed is boat-shaped, 3-3.3mm long and 2mm high with a plain comb; the testa is reticulated with microscopically fine papillae and shining chestnut-brown in colour; the basal hilum is a flattened irregular oval up to 2.5mm across with a bright coloured margin; the embryo is boat-shaped with cotyledons hardly visible and without perisperm; the kernel is covered with very fine tiny golden hairs.
From this description it is clear that Frailea phaeodisca and Frailea asterioides are two distinct species. We found Frailea asterioides around Alegrete and Guarai and also around Uruguaiana and further north on the eastern side of the Rio Uruguayana. It was therefore a surprise to find a green form in Misiones in Argentina on the eastern side of the Rio Parana. It is a question whether these two forms should be separated from the type as varieties?
During the growing season these small plants like quite a lot of water and even during the winter time when they are in complete rest, I give them almost every morning a fine spray on the plant bodies, keeping the roots dry, for in their habitat they get this moisture. Treating them thus enables the plants to have more strength to recover from the dry season. It is essential to spray only in the mornings so that the plants are quite dry in the evening. It is dangerous to spray when temperatures are near zero, so I never keep my Brazilian plants in winter below 10° Celsius.

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Frailea asterioides Werd.
Missiones, Arg. East of Rio Parana
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