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Genetic Variations in Wild Andes Seedlings
I germinated thousands of these Wild Andes Peruvian torches a few years ago. One repeat customer asked me to select as varied ones (wild andes) as possible when he figured out how much genetic diversity they express.

[More photos]

This same broadness of variation (spines, fatness, skin color) shows in the larger Peruvian torches I sell -those are from Karel Knize seed shipped directly from Peru.  Only Bridgesii, KK242, San Pedro and a few others are boringly similar because they have been propagated from cuttings for decades.

The genetic differences in apples
Apples have so much genetic diversity that commercial farmers don't use apple seeds. They graft cuttings from the specific variety they want. For example if you germinate the seeds from a golden delicious apple it will most likely produce a small sour apple. Most apples grown from seed turn out to be sour - and historically used for making cider, not eating.

Biologist traced apples back to their origin in central Asia. Here is an edited explanation (will make you roll your eyes):

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple]
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Cultivars vary in their yield and the ultimate size of the tree, even when grown on the same rootstock.

In the wild, apples grow quite readily from seeds. However, like most perennial fruits, apples are ordinarily propagated asexually by grafting. This is because seedling apples are an example of "Extreme heterozygotes", in that rather than inheriting DNA from their parents to create a new apple with those characteristics, they are instead different from their parents, sometimes radically. Triploids have an additional reproductive barrier in that the 3 sets of chromosomes cannot be divided evenly during meiosis yielding unequal segregation of the chromosomes (aneuploids). Even in the very unusual case when a triploid plant can produce a seed (apples are an example), it happens infrequently, and seedlings rarely survive. Most new apple cultivars originate as seedlings, which either arise by chance or are bred by deliberately crossing cultivars with promising characteristics.

Maybe these Peruvian sacred cactus seeds are also unpredictable. There is no commercial interest in sacred cactus so no one is spending millions of dollars to research their genetics. We can assume that people valued trichocereus for thousands of years, propagated them by cuttings based on the particular traits they liked. They fall over naturally and self root; any fool can figure that out and did for thousands of years. Growing them from seed is almost unnatural. In 20+ years I have never encountered San Pedro spontaneously growing from seed.

Right now (winter) my cactus are dormant (it is winter) and I have thousands of Peruvian seedlings to pot up from 2", 4", and even 6". I have spent years patiently tending these KK seeds. In 2010 that effort will pay off as their growth rate rockets.

Many of the wild Andes seedlings were too weak, many too light sensitive, etc. I've lost over a thousand weaklings. But that leaves thousands more that are vigorous. Some are fat, others tall and thin. Spine variations is fascinating.

My Karel Knize seedlings (started in 2006) and the wild Andes (2007) will be my most interesting specimens ever offered for sale. I have to keep some for private stock (take cuttings), but now have more and more of them to share with other collectors.

I can't name these variations -there is no official study of what is growing in remote parts of the Andes. But I can group the plants by appearances (spines, column shape, skin color, etc.) and photograph each population as a "look similar" variety for sale.

A small number of my seed grown San Pedro from Knize are now 12" to 16" and must be saved for propagation by cuttings. These are the only San Pedro I own that were raised from Peruvian seed. They are lovely - fat, dark green, glossy, with short spines.

This stuff is a lot of fun if one is patient. It takes years to produce mature specimens. Sacred Cactus are as sweet as kittens with just as many different faces. They have lived for thousands of years in remote Peruvian mountain valleys before making their way to my farm in California and to your house via FedEx Ground! It is a great honor for me to host their existence. Boy, when I die someone is going to have a fun time with the cactus orchard I have created.


Contact: Cactus_Kate@trichocereus.com
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