Cactus experts needed
July 1, 2016 11:15 AM   Subscribe

We have a Christmas Cactus that has been alive for many, many years. It recently has started to grow a few unusual nodule/bud things, and we haven't been successful at pinpointing exactly what they are from Internet research. Can anyone tell what these are, and if they are good/bad/indifferent? Two images here, one of the cactus and another with a close up of the thing.
posted by jason and the garlic knots to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's blooming.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:16 AM on July 1, 2016

No, those aren't blooms- they bloom from the end of the last leaf. They look like roots to me. All you have to do is cut it behind the notch and stick the cut end into the dirt.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:31 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's some guidance on what the appearance of those roots may mean about the plant's health.
posted by purple_bird at 11:47 AM on July 1, 2016

These don't look like roots to me, either. The roots are paler and more wispy, not nodule-y like these things. I can think of a way to test if they are roots, though--break one of those sections off, and set it in a clear glass with some water. If they are roots, they'll grow in the water fairly quickly. Presumably that won't happen if they aren't roots.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am by no means a Schlumbergera or Zygocactus expert, but I am a botanist. It appears to me to be some sort of fasciation of the bud. Hopefully, SpatheCadet will be along soon to lend some expertise to the situation. :)
posted by strelitzia at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Those aren't roots. Roots are white and whispy as said above. But I don't know what they are, I've never seen them before.

My parents have one if these plants which is 41 years old. I know this because my dad bought it for my mum when I was born and yesterday was my birthday. It's super hardy and has survived being cut back quite hard. So I'd be tempted to cut off the branches above this weirdness and just get rid of it that way.
posted by shelleycat at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

Not all roots are white and wispy. I have nubby brown adventitious roots on several plants right now.

I think fascination sounds right but also reccommend snorkmaiden' test- get empirical!

I would not do anything other than observe, I think the plant is fine, even if it does have a weird crest mutation going on.
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2016

For whatever it's worth, I am also a botanist and my first thought was also fasciation. I've never seen Christmas cactus cresting before, though - cool! (Do report back if it starts looking even more interesting.)
posted by pemberkins at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

To me, it looks like how I'd imagine witches' broom would look if it affected a Christmas cactus. I am not a botanist, and have no idea if such a thing is possible.
posted by conic at 6:14 PM on July 1, 2016

I've never seen this before, but agree that they're not roots or buds, and it's either fasciation or a witch's broom. Either would be really unusual; I looked for a while and was unable to find any other on-line examples.

As to the good/bad/indifferent question, it's definitely not good. If nothing else, all the energy the plant uses to build these weird growths is energy it's not using to build normal stems, so it's probably stunting the rest of the plant a little. Whether this is necessarily bad depends on how quickly you want the rest of the plant to be growing, I suppose.

I like seeing plants do weird shit, and this is super weird shit, so personally I'd be tempted to remove the branch and try to root it in another pot, just to see what happens next. If there's a pathogen involved (as is probable with witch's broom and plausible with fasciation), you probably don't want to preserve and nurture it in your home indefinitely, though.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:56 AM on July 2, 2016

I had a similar thing happen to my cactus about two years ago. I had gotten a Christmas Cactus at the office party, we run this every year, so one year we had a plant themed gift exchange so bunch of cactus plants were given out as white elephant gifts. Long story short, my cactus started growing these root looking "nodes". I first thought it was going to bloom. Then a friend suggested it was a way for this particular plant to "spread". basically it's supposed to create these lateral roots and kind of replicate itself. Unfortunately in my case these roots died off soon and then the whole plant followed. I could not save it.

Really hope your plant will be OK.
posted by LarryMan at 8:30 AM on July 7, 2016

« Older Take the job or leave it?   |   How to get rid of old laptops? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.