Hechtia belongs to the Bromeliaceae or bromeliad family, which includes such familiar plants as , Aechmea, Billbergia, Cryptanthus ("Earth Stars"), Neoregelia, Tillandsia ("Air Plants"), and of course, the pineapple (Ananas comosus). These plants typically produce a rosette of more or less rigid leaves which frequently bear modified hair-
Hechtia "Lad Cutak" is a medium sized plant -
The following infoemation was discovered on the Bromeliad Society International
Dyckia x Lad Cutak M B Foster hybr. nov. in Brom. Soc. Bull. 11: 10. 1961
Dyckia brevifolia x Dyckia leptostachya
This has been one of the most vigorous hybrids I have ever made. Through the years it has been so floriferous and frost resistant that I felt it was quite worthwhile to publish the account of the origin of this hybrid as originally described in the "Cactus and Succulent Journal" (of Scott Haselton) of the issue No. 10 in October, 1957.
'There have been so few species of Dyckias introduced into horticulture in the past that little choice has been offered to the collector. Then too, most of the known Dyckias are too large for the "lot gardener", so about your only chance of seeing them has been in a California garden or in one of the larger botanical gardens.
"On our trip into the dry areas of Matto Grosso, Brazil, in 1940 we found Dyckia leptostachya. This interesting species had been sent to the Kew Gardens in 1867 but was not described until 1834, although Burchell originally collected it in Goyaz, Brazil, in 1828. Now after 120 years from its first collection it has definitely adopted a new home in our southern states.
"This colorful Dyckia adapted itself so readily and has been so willing to send forth two or three tall spikes of rich orange flowers every spring in our garden and is not at all bothered by frost, that I was most anxious to see what I could do with it as a parent for a hybrid.
"Dyckia sulphurea, which no doubt also included D. brevifolia, from Uruguay and Brazil, was introduced at Kew about 1873. It has for years been a member of many collections and is now a rather common item in the dish garden world.
"In 1943 I made the cross between D. leptostachya and D. sulphurea and this spring (1947) we saw the first plant from this union in full bloom. The results far exceeded our expectations.
"In form this new hybrid has compromised nicely with both of its parents. The leaves are 6 to 10 inches long, glabrous, maroon green on the upper side and vertically lineate on the light green underside; the marginal teeth less prominent than on D. sulphurea, but not recurved as in D. leptostachya. The peduncle from 12 to 18 inches emerges laterally midway between the axil and basal leaves. The inflorescence is a lax, simple spike two to three feet long. This three to four and a half foot flowering stalk of from 40 to 60 ascending yellow orange flowers is a beautiful sight for a period of several weeks, especially when one plant gives forth five flowering spikes as did this first one; it is more floriferous than its parents.
"This new hybrid, much after the nature of D. sulphurea increases vegetatively by subdivision as well as by side shoots, but does not send out underground stolons as does D. leptostachya.
"The light orange flowers are somewhat larger than the dark orange flowers of D. leptostachya and resembles in form the sulphur yellow flowers of D. sulphurea.
‘Knowing Lad Cutak of the Missouri Botanical Garden and his great enthusiasm and tireless work with succulents, has made it a pleasure to name this, my first Dyckia hybrid to show bloom, in his honor."
To date, my plant has not produced any flowers, so I am unable to comment on their size and coloration, but in other Hechtias, the individual flowers are smallish, and are generally not very brightly colored -
Propagation is easy, just separate out a few offsets when re-
"Lad Cutak" is a tough survivor; it tolerates significant drought, temperature extremes, heavy summer rains, and appears to be highly resistant to disease and insect infestations: it responds well to my general guidelines on growing succulents, with a few considerations. To produce its most intense coloration, "Lad Cutak" requires very intense lighting -
This plant is not without its drawbacks; each leaf bears a sharp and rigid terminal spine (do not display this plant at eye level), and the marginal "teeth" along the length of the leaves are particularly good at snagging passersby with such a tenacity, that the plant could become unpotted. Either indoors or outdoors, do not plant this variety close to high traffic areas.
This is not an easy plant to locate in the trade, I acquired my plant from Bill Hendricks, but to date, I have not found it listed in the catalogs of any of the mail order companies which I have dealt with. I suspect that Bill acquired his plant through an ISI introduction. But the Hechtias, and the very similar looking Dyckias are attractive plants with a well deserved reputation of being tough survivors. Just about any of these plants would make a suitable addition to a mixed succulent summer planter. If you ever encounter this plant, or one of its close relatives, give it a try.