What is a Crested Succulent: The Complete Guide

Ok lest talk about a Crested Succulent.

I will start with the short version.

Many times you can find succulent plants that have fantastic and strange shapes. 

There are three typical variations of the growth and natural form of the succulent plant: crested forms, monstrous growths, and variety, often derived from morpho-anatomic anomalies or plant development.

The crested forms of succulent plants

The ridges, also known as fasciation, are an alteration of stem growth, in which the apical meristem expands abnormally and the new development of the stems begins to widen and flatten, resulting in perpendicular growth of the plant in the form of fan or crest.

There is no agreement on the reasons why this deformation of growth occurs that enchants horticulturists. 

It is very rare to get these variations spontaneously in nature. 

Usually, crested forms can be reproduced vegetatively without difficulties. 

In a crested shape, the growth point begins at a single lateral apex, in a long line consisting of many growth points arranged symmetrically, forming patterns.

Crystallization is a fairly frequent phenomenon in Cactaceae and also in other succulent families such as Euphorbiaceae, Crassulaceae, Asclepiadaceae, among others. 

Plants that exhibit the crested variation include the term “crystal form” or “f. Cristata after the species name.

The monstrous cacti

Monstrosity can be described as the unusual appearance of diminished buds with chaotic branching. 

Monstrous cacti grow from random points, as if it were the dominant point, resulting in the growth of asymmetric plants and covered with bumps and whorls. 

Monstrous forms are not common among succulent foliar trees, it is a more common phenomenon in cacti and Euphorbias.

Succulent crests and monstrous cacti are grown just like normal plants of the same species, except they tend to be more sensitive. 

Many crested and monstrous plants are often grafted to accelerate growth and make them more resistant. 

Pruning normal shoots helps the crest shape to grow better and form more, but sometimes these shoots can grow back normally. 

There are monstrous forms that can be confused with crests and only specialists can distinguish the difference

If you geek about Crested Succulent read this study

Long Version

Crested Succulent

The existence of crested and monstrous forms, as well as other morphological variations in cultivated plants (varieties, multiple flowers, etc.), often derived from morpho-anatomic anomalies or vegtal development, constitute an element that traditional that has attracted horticulturists, giving rise to new cultivated forms.

 The ridges are a defect of stem growth, in which the api-cal meristem expands abnormally and the new development of the stems begins to widen and flatten (Lapshin, 2002), which sometimes gives fight sinuous forms. 

The crest is due to the defect of a meristem, a lack of coordination when the initial cells divide.

As a result, the shoots have an axial symmetry instead of central. 

This aberration is commonly extended in the Cactaceae family and in some genera of the Crassulaceae family (Lap-shin, 2002 and 2004). 

From a historical point of view, for example, Munting (1696) shows an image of a crested specimen probably belonging to the Sedum genus (fig. 1). The appearance of crested forms of special growth is not observed only in plants.

Crested Succulent affects many other groups of vascular plants in nature and in culture. 

Of 290 families of vascular plants, the crests have been found in at least 107 of them, with no data confirming their absence in the other taxonomic groups (Cactus Art Nursery, 2006). 

The cultivation of the crested forms deserves a special mention, since the accidental appearance of the ridges occurs frequently, which attracts the attention of the collectors, due to their peculiar appearance. 

Usually, crested forms can be reproduced vegetatively without difficulties (Lapshin, 2004).

In a crested form, the growth point begins at a single lateral apex, in a long line consisting of many growth points arranged symmetrically, forming patterns (Andrew, 2006). 

In monstrous forms, on the contrary, the mutation takes place over the entire plant, not only at the apex of the stem; growth points originate mainly in the stem and branches, causing a very irregular development (Andrew, 2006). 

Both forms, crested and monstrous, in general, are not as resistant as the “normal” specimens, exhibiting in the case of cacti and succulents greater sensitivity to cold, drought and insect pests (Andrew, 2006).

Plants with these anomalies can bloom, but less abundantly, showing disfigured flowers, equally monstrous or crested, that can be sterile and produce no seed (Andrew, 2006). 

If reproduced by seeds, their “monster-sas” characteristics may appear in the new generation, along with other genetic mutations such as irrigation, but inheritance is highly variable and cannot be guaranteed (Andrew, 2006). 

These mutations can occur in combination, since, for example, there are variegated crested forms such as Aeonium decorum ´Sunburst´ f. cristata and Euphorbia lactea f. varie-cat f. cristata (Lapshin, 2004). 

Filippov (2001) analyzes the different theories about the origin of the crests, mentioning that for many authors the crests are the result of a tissue rupture (hypertrophy). 

It also indicates that some authors cite cases where plants were infested by predatory animals and parasites by sucking the juice and laying eggs in the plant’s body. 

The plant paralyzes growth in that area and reproduces laterally, which includes the formation of ridges. 

Other authors believe that where a crested form is found, more can be found, including some belonging to other species, which involves considering mechanical causes in the formation of ridges (especially if there are rocks or the place is used as grass).

 Another possible cause could be fungal contamination, although another theory indicates that it occurs when factors that contribute to active growth, such as humidity, coincide in a favorable period for photosynthesis, but unfavorable for growth (Filippov, 2001).

Although, according to Andrew (2001), the cause of this type of growth is not known for sure, as has been explained there are many theories, such as radiation, mechanical causes, chemicals at the point of growth and others of growth. broader spectrum such as colchicine, which interferes with cell division. 

There are experiences such as that carried out by Papafotiou & al. 

(2004) in Mammillaria elongata DC., Of in vitro regeneration by means of tuber calluses, from crested and uncrossed forms, the latter showing a high percentage of apex cuts, which initially formed a crested swollen bud.

This outbreak in turn generated new crested and normal shoots, apparently associated with this different response to the chosen place of cut. 

Within succulent plants, crests in the family Cac-taceae are perhaps best known, with numerous examples such as the genus Ariocarpus Scheidw; in this case the crested forms in culture were collected essentiallyin the field, having been cultivated for decades, and many of them between 50 and 75 years (Anderson, 1999). Anderson (1999) cites for example A. fissuratus K. Schum. and its crested forms, with a large number of these in the wild, essentially without crested representatives in cultivation.

Another representative genus is As-trophytum Lem., For which Hoock (2004) mentions an article published in Kakteen und an-dere Sukkulenten, in July 1986, where a crested form of A. capricorne (Dietrich) Britton was shown & Rose, from a population located in northern Saltillo (Coahuila). 

Hoock (2004) also indicates a crested flower, by A. myriostigma Lemaire, in a Nuremberg co-lesson. 

This author adds that apart from A. asterias (Zucc.) Lemaire, wild crested forms of all the representatives of the genus have been found. 

Also, he notes that ridges are more commonly found in evolutionarily older species. 

Monstrous forms are not common among succulents with leaves (foliar). Mons-truosity can be described as the unusual appearance of diminished buds with chaotic branching. 

For succulent foliar trees, this abnormality is similar to the ridges (Lapshin, 20 04). 

Lapshin (2004) cites examples of abnormalities such as those of Crassula lycopodioides f. monstrosa -which has areas with an irregular foliar arrangement, stem distortion and unusual branching pattern-, Echeveria runyonii ´Topsy -turvi´, Crassula oblique ´Hobbit´ and Semper-vivum x ´Odytii´. Lapshin (2002) quotes several crested and monstrous forms of the Cras-sulaceae family, not included in the previous group: Eche-veria glauca subsp. 

Pumila f. cristata, E. sec. f. monstrous, Pachyphytum compactum f. cristata, Sedum reflexum f. cristata, Crassula portulacea f. monstrous and Graptopetalum be-llum f. crystal. Several hundred crested cacti are currently known according to Pilbeam (2003). 

Kalishev (2002) lists up to 670 names belonging to 110 species of crested cactus. 

Nau-mov (2002) provides a list of crested and monstrous forms of succulent plants, including several representatives of the genus Se-dum L., such as S. dendroideum ssp. prealtum f. crista ta, S. reflexum f. cristata and S. reflexum f. variegata cristata. In the Iberian Peninsula there are no references in the scientific literature on the appearance in the natural environment of crested or monstrous forms in succulent plants. 

However, there are cases of monstrous forms escaped from cultivation, for example Cereus peruvianus var. monsters, which has been cited as an alien plant in Spain (Guillot, 2003; Sanz-Elorza & al., 2004). 

Cereus peruvianus is cultivated with frequency in the Valencian Community, both the type species and two of its cultivations: 

´Monstruosus´ (Cereus monstersus minor, C. monsters Schumann, Cactus abnormis Will-denow), similar to the type species but with ribs that often seem broken in irregular tubers, and cv. 

‘Monstruosus minor’ (Ce-reus peruvianus monstersus nanus Schumann), similar to the previous one but with the most broken and smaller ribs, barely exceeding 1 m of height in cultivation. In the 19th century mons-truose and crystalline forms were already cultivated in Europe.

 For example, Watson (1889) quotes Opun-tia cylindrica cristata, and indicates “it is a very unique example of a monstrous cactus.” 

Likewise, these cultivated forms were already cited in the horticultural literature of the 19th century in Spain: 

Cutanda & Amo (1848) indicate that C. peruvianus monsters was the object of cultivation in Madrid, and later Cortes (1885) says: 

“Two varieties are cultivated , C. monsters and C. minor, which is a subvariety ”. 

In this article we make reference to what, with great probability, is a first national ci-ta of crested forms in native succulents (case of Sedum sediform), formally proposing the denomination as new cultivation, and on the other hand the asylum-vestration of Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Müehlenpfordt) Backeberg ´Cresta´ and Opuntia cylindrica (AL Juss. ex Lamarck) DC is indicated. ´Mons-truosa´ in Valencian lands.


By 1995 we collected material from a specimen that we can include in what we consider monstrous and crested forms, of the Sedum sediforme (Jacq.) Pau (fig. 2), cv. ´Monstruosa´ nova, and that differs clearly from the typical forms by the abnormal divisions of the stem. 

The collection area was the shady slope of the Buñol Retamal Peak (UTM30SXJ7864, 910 m), in the province of Valencia, in low scrublands dominated by Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Quercus coccifera L. 

The plant was found in the field by two of the co-authors of this work (Juan José Herrero-Borgoñón Pérez and Emilio Laguna Lumbreras), taking a fragment that was used for vegetative propagation and cultivation, which has been developed at the Center for Forest Research and Experimentation (CIEF), in the town of Quart de Poblet (Valencia). 

Subsequently, and from these specimens, the plant has been reproduced and marketed for the first time by Viveros Vangarden, owned by Piet Van der Meer, in Picaña (Valencia). 

The population from which the fragments were collected

of plant corresponds to S. sediforme (Jacq.) Pau subsp. sediform – see references of nomenclature in the final annex – according to Castroviejo & al. (1990). 

As for Sedum sediforme subsp. sedi-form, from a morphological point of view, its erect stems carry succulent leaves that are wider and flatter than those of other morphologically similar species (e.g., S. montanum, S. multiceps, S. ochroleucum, etc.).

The leaves are generally glauco-greenish or greenish-yellowish tones, but blue-greenish, olive-green and brown-green glabrous forms are often found in cultivation.

 Plants can reach up to 25 cm in length, and with high, straight inflorescences, they can reach 50 cm in height.

The inflores-cencias carry colored flowers, with creamy or yellowish white petals, spread over scorpioid branches. In the fruit, the branches of the corimbus remain like the fingers of a cupped hand (Stephenson, 1994). 

This species inhabits the Mediterranean region, from Portugal and Morocco to the Middle East (Syria and Israel). 

It lives from sea level up to 2,000 m altitude, although in some areas of its range it is restricted to environments near the coast. 

The Portuguese and Spanish wide-leaf shapes, usually flattened by the upper face, are exceptionally beautiful due to their compact structure. 

The greener French forms of high altitudes are less spectacular. 

Maire (1977) described Sedum nicae-ense var. 

Brevirostratum Faure & Maire with smaller flowers of the Moroccan Grand Atlas. 

In Sierra Nevada, this author indicates that he observed visually contrasted forms growing side by side.

 T’Hart (1978 and 1991) indicated plants with a number 2n = 32, 48, 64, 80, 96 and 128, saying that diploid forms prefer lowland habitats, tetraploids have no preference and hexaploids they appear pre-faithfully in mountain habitats. Hébert (1983) added 2n = 60 in Spanish, Greek and Turkish plants, plus numerous anomalies. 

A particularly beautiful crystalline form, which grows from seed, has been distributed by a French enthusiast (Stephenson, 1994). 

From a horticultural point of view, the wide-leaf and glaucous forms give excellent specimens, being grown abroad in the United Kingdom. 

Ste-phenson (1994) indicates that all forms are cultivated in the maritime areas of Northum-berland (England), although precautions should be taken in areas with cold winters, except perhaps with French or Spanish hexaploids (Stephenson, 1994). 

In the Iberian Silves-Tres populations, it is confirmed that there is a strong variation of foliar and floral color, as well as the size of individuals, which cannot easily be attributed to the influence of the areas where species grow. 

Thus, the plants of coastal du-nas near Lisbon have yellowish-orange flowers (E. Laguna, obs. Pers.), While those of most of the Iberian Peninsula possess them creamy white or pale yellow, except the subsp. dianium (O. Bolòs) O. 

Bolòs, endemic to the SE of Valencia and NE of Alicante, with very flattened leaves and very intense yellow flowers. 

In the original collection area of ​​the new cv. monstrous, glaucous and yellowish-green specimens appear, without transitions between the two, but morphologically correspond to S. sediforme subsp. sediform, and within it to var. saguntinum O. Bolòs, dominant in areas of medium and low Valencian mountains. 

In the high mountains there are sometimes much more compact and small forms, with fewer radii and flowers, which do not exceed 20-25 cm in flower, and that grown at low altitude do not vary their morphological characteristics ( E. Laguna, obs. Pers.). 1.2. 

We have recently observed a cult of horticultural origin not previously found in Spain escaped from cultivation, belonging to a species widely cited in the botanical literature of our country in recent years: Austrocylindropuntia subulata (Müehlenpfordt) Backeberg ´Cresta´ (fig. 

3) ( 30SYJ2799, Estive-lla, 103 m, 5-VI-2006, D. Guillot), together with other native species such as Nopalea dejacta Salm-Dyck, Opuntia tomentosa Salm-Dyck, O. ficus-indica Mill. And native species such as Quercus cocci -fera, Pinus halepensis Mill., Pistacia lentiscus L., etc.). 

It is a single specimen, probably from a nearby garden, dealing with a very rare cult in cultivation in the Valencian Community. 

The cultivate ´Cresta´ differs from the type plant by its stems, not elongated and crested. 

Austrocylindropuntia subulata has been previously cited in Spain by various authors, such as Castroviejo & al. (1990) and Mateo & Crespo (2003).

The type locality of this species is Valparaíso, in Chile. It was described, from cultivated specimens, according to Britton & Rose (1919), which indicated that although Chile is generally cited as the origin of this plant, it would not be found wild there, but would be native only to the Andes of Peru , but being widely distributed in other places such as Argentina and Bolivia. 

The thorns of this species have been used by the ancient inhabitants of Peru (Anderson, 2001). 

It was previously named as a Pe-reskia Mill. Because its leaves are persistent and elongated, according to (Watson (1889), but in the year

1883 Dr. George Engelmann believed that he should not belong to this genre and transferred it to the genus Opuntia Mill. (Britton & Rose, 1919). 

Aus-trocylindropuntia subulata has been cited as invasive in Spain (Sanz-Elorza & al., 2001 and 2004; Dana & al., 2003; Yoshioka, 2005), introduced in the Galapagos Islands (Thomas, 2004-2005), invasive in Australia (Randall, 2005) and in South Africa (Henderson, 2001), and cultivated and naturalized in many parts of South America (USDA, 2006). 1.3. 

On the other hand, the invading species Opuntia cylindrica (A. L. Jussieu ex Lamarck) DC is cited for the first time. 

[Camar cylindricus Lamarck; Cereus cylindricus Haworth; Austrocylindro-puntia cylindrical (A. L. Juss. Ex Lam.) Backe-berg] in the Iberian Peninsula; in this case it is the horticultural variety ´Monstruosa´ (fig. 4) (30SYJ1195, Olocau, Urbanization La Lloma, 270 m, 4-II-2007, D. Guillot), in a low mountain area next to Quercus coccifera, Pinus halepensis, Pistacia lentiscus, etc., growing from garden cleaning waste. Sanz-Elorza & al. (2004) include this species in the list of Spanish native plants, being naturalized in the Canary Islands, where it has been cited in Fuerteventura by Brandes & Fritzsch (2002). 

It has also been indicated as invasive in Queensland, Australia (Richardson & al., 2006; Department of Natural Resources and Water, 2006), naturalized in New South Wales a crystalline form of this species, along with Cylindro-puntia arbuscula (Engelm. & JM Bigelow) FM Knuth, C. tunicata (Lehm.) FM Knuth and O. stricta (Haw.) Haw., While Harden (1999-2006) also cites this species in New South Wales, Victoria, Canberra and South Australia . 

From the chorological point of view, the type locality was described from Peru. Britton & Rose (1919) tells us “The home of this species is generally said by recent writers like Chile, but Lamarck, who first described it in 1783, said it came from Peru. Dr. Rose, who visited Peru and Chile in 1914, was not able to find it wild in these countries, but abundantly in Ecuador in 1918. ” Anderson (2001) points out, like these authors, that he has lived in Ecuador. 

From the historical point of view, this species was introduced in England in 1799 (Forbes, 1837; Watson, 1889), but the flowers were not observed until 1834 (Britton & Rose, 1919).

From the horticultural point of view, Watson (1889) already indicated a crested shape, and later Britton & Rose (1919) speak of two abnormal forms in cultivation, offered under the names of monstrous and monstrous variety, indicated In addition, some varieties were offered in catalogs: cristata, cristata minor and robustior.

 From the ethnobotanical point of view, it is a taxon in which mescaline has been found (Turner & Heyman, 1960; Bravo, 1978), and may contain 0’9% in dry weight (Nobel, 1994).

In Peru, Cruz (1951) indicates that the name of cimora is given to various concoctions, mixtures of plants with toxic or medicinal properties, whose composition almost always includes this species. Source

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