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Aztekium Ritteri (Aztec Cactus)
The genus, Aztekium, is named after its resemblance to certain Aztec pyramids while the species, Ritteri, was named after botanist Fredrich Ritter as a gesture of honor in 1928. Native to Nuevo Leon in northeast Mexico, ritteri is typically found on north-facing, rocky slopes. This species, which is said to have been sacred to the Tarahumara Indians, was believed to be the only species in its genus until George S. Hinton discovered Aztekium Hintonii in 1991, roughly 60 years later. As of today, Aztekum remains a two species genus, and both species are highly collectable. Aztekium Ritteri has a distinctive appearance with 9-11 wrinkled ribs. Tufts of wool fill its areoles and sometimes run up the center of each rib, meeting to create a wooly crown on top. Ritteri is a small, slow-growing cactus fed by a main taproot that is considered mature at about only 2 inches. Despite the small size of individual buttons, it readily offsets new buttons. Grafting is said to increase this effect. The flowers of Aztekium Ritteri are pink to white and bloom throughout the summer. Seeds are the most common means of propagation, but due to the small size of the seedlings, raising them to maturity requires skill. This species is an excellent and extremely rewarding challenge for experienced growers, but it is not recommended for beginners.