In August 2001 a very unusual cactus was discovered in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The plant had a very short, squat stem and long, thin tubercles arising from the stem like tentacles. Below the stem, and buried in the ground, was a thick, fat root. Interestingly, the long, snake-like tubercles were covered with small white trichomes, very similar to those found on the body of plants in the genus Astrophytum. Later, when this strange cactus flowered, and produce fruit and seeds, they too, were very similar to those of the astrophytums. Botanically, it seemed to be a new species of Astrophytum, but the plant body looked nothing like any of the other astrophytums.
For the past 8 to 10 years, I have been growing a lot of astrophytums. I have representatives of the species A. asterias, A. capricorne, A. myriostigma, and A. ornatum. I also have a number of varieties, and hybrids, including the very popular Astrophytum 'Super Kabuto.' I wanted a plant of the newly described A. caput-medusae.
Over time seed began to enter the market place and in March 2013 I purchased 10 seeds of Astrophytum caput-medusae from Mesa Garden. The seeds were planted and 8 of the 10 germinated. Two of the resulting seedlings were smaller and weaker than the rest and eventually died. I had six strong, healthy seedlings. The seedlings were grown under fluorescent lights and grew slowly. I could tell in the beginning most of the growth took place in the enlarging roots. Each seedling had 3 to 5 tubercles. Three weeks ago, in early June 2014, one of the seedlings produced a flower bud at the end of one of the tubercules. I had read about buds forming on young seedlings, but most buds aborted before opening. My first bud didn't abort and I was pleased and surprised that I had my first Astrophytum caput-medusae flower on one of my 15 month old seedlings.