2019 55¢ Cactus Flower (Echinocereus coccineus)
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: February 15, 2019
First Day City: Mesa, AZ
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Double-sided booklet of 20
Quantity Printed: 400,000,000
Cacti may seem like simple plants, but they actually have a wide variety of characteristics that make each species unique. Some might have hard, short spines while others have long soft spines. They might be solitary or grown in large clumps. These and many other factors help determine what genus and species that individual cactus belongs to. Sometimes the only way to tell two species apart is with DNA testing.
The scarlet hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus coccineus) is one of four subspecies with very similar traits. It has a ribbed surface with 8 to 11 sections and 5 to 20 spines per areole (the structure thorns grow from). The scarlet hedgehog produces a single bright red-orange flower about three to four inches in diameter. Its stem is about one to two inches thick. Other subspecies can be distinguished by a different number of spines, thinner or thicker stem, or flower color. One variety also has a darker green skin than the rest.
It takes a practiced eye to tell the difference between one cactus and another. This is one of the reasons collectors enjoy growing them. It is fun to explore each species and show off the skill of growing the beautiful flowers cacti are famous for.