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Origin and Habitat: Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar)
Description: This is the crested clone of Copiapoa montana. It is one of the more fascinating crested Copiapoa sought after by cactus impassioned. This cultivar is stable and remain crested. The standard species is a geophytic cactus arising from a large tuberose root that can slowly branch from the base to form moderately large clump.
Roots: Large tap-root connected to the stem base through a slender neck.
Stem: Fan-shaped 4-10 cm in width, pale green or olive green eventually lightly tinged with brown in the sun, and crowned by a dense mass of long white wool, particularly at flowering time.
Ribs: Prominent, divided into large tubercles about 7 mm high.
Areoles: Round 3-10 mm in diameter, 5-15 mm apart and covered with white or brown wool turning grey, later glabrous.
Spines: Straight or slightly curved, brownish-black to black (later grey).
Radial spines: 4 to 9 straight or slightly curved, stoutly needle-like, 5-20 mm long.
Central spines: 0 to 3 stronger, straight, and about 2 cm long as well.
Flowers: The flowers arise on the line crest, often several at a time, nearly hidden in the dense wool. They are glossy, pale yellow, with broad limb, 5.5 cm in diameter, and with a faint scent.
Blooming season: Flowers intermittently throughout the whole summer.
Fruit: 1-1.3cm in diameter, reddish.
Seeds: Small, black glossy 1,2-2 x 0,9-1,2 mm.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Copiapoa taltalensis group
- Copiapoa desertorum F.Ritter: is an hardy desert type that distinguishes for the darker coloured spines and for the rarely seen red flowers. Distribution: Cifuncho.
- Copiapoa desertorum var. rubriflora (F.Ritter) A.E.Hoffm.: Flowers are scented and reddish. Distributiom: Cifuncho.
- Copiapoa desertorum var. rupestris (F.Ritter) A.E.Hoffm.: is similar to Copiapoa rubriflora but usually with saffron-yellow flowers rather than red. Distribution: between Cifuncho and Taltal.
- Copiapoa hornilloensis F.Ritter
- Copiapoa montana F.Ritter: Smaller form. Distribution: North of Taltal to San Ramon.
- Copiapoa montana f. cristata hort.: Crested form. Garden origin (Nursery produced cultivar)
- Copiapoa olivana F.Ritter
- Copiapoa rarissima F.Ritter
- Copiapoa taltalensis (Werderm.) Looser: form large clump up to 50 cm tall from a large tuberose root. Distribution: Taltal to Esneralda, and the region east of Cifuncho.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Adriana Hoffmann “Cactáceas en la Flora Silvestre de Chile” 1st edition, 1989
2) Schulz R., (2006). “Copiapoa 2006” Schulz Publishing.
3) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
4) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) F.Ritter “Kakteen Südamerika” 3: 1072 1980.
6) Graham Charles “Copiapoa” Cirio Pub. Services, 1999
7) Hans Hecht “BLV-Handbuch der Kakteen” BLV-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1982
Cultivation and Propagation: It is not too difficult in a greenhouse, although grows quite slowly. It is usually seen as a grafted plant but can grow on its own roots too.
Soil: Use a mineral well permeable soil with little organic matter (peat, humus).
Exposure: They need a good amount of light shade to full sun this help to keep the plants healthy, although slow growth.
Watering: Water sparingly from March till October (weekly during summertime, if the weather is sunny enough), with a little fertilizer added. Less or no water during cold winter months, or when night temperatures remain below 10° to prevent root loss. It is sensitive to overwatering (rot prone).
Fertilization: Feeding may not be necessary at all if the compost is fresh then, feed in summer only if the plant hasn't been repotted recently. Do not feed the plants from September onwards as this can cause lush growth which can be fatal during the darker cold months.
Hardiness: Keep perfectly dry in winter at temperatures from 5 to 15 degrees centigrade. (but it is relatively cold resistant and hardy to -5° C, or possibly colder for short periods) In the rest period no high atmospheric humidity!! (Temperature Zone: USDA 9-11)
Crested growth: Unlike 'monstrose' varieties of plants, where the variation from normal growth is due to genetic mutation, crested growth can occur on normal plants. Sometimes it's due to variances in light intensity, or damage, but generally the causes are unknown. A crested plant may have some areas growing normally, and a cresting plant that looks like a brain, may revert to normal growth for no apparent reason. If you have any of the crested part left you need to remove the normal growth and leave the crested part behind this will need to be done regularly.
Propagation: Grafting or cuttings. Plants are usually grafted onto column-shaped cacti but proved to be able to produce their own roots if degrafted. Cuttings will take root in a minimum temperature of 20° C (but better in hot weather). Cuttings of healthy shoots can be taken in the spring and summer. Cut the stem with a sharp, sterile knife, leave the cutting in a warm, dry place for a week or weeks (depending on how thick the cutting is) until a callus forms over the wound. Once the callus forms, the cutting may be inserted in a container filled with firmed cactus potting mix topped with a surface layer of coarse grit. They should be placed in the coarse grit only; this prevents the cut end from becoming too wet and allows the roots to penetrate the rich compost underneath. The cuttings should root in 2 to 6 weeks. Large crested piece must be placed on the soil surface without burying the plant base down in the soil.
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