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Accepted Scientific Name: Copiapoa solaris (F.Ritter) F.Ritter
Kakteen Südamerika 3: 1047 (1980)
Origin and Habitat: Garden origin. The natural species comes is endemic to a restricted area and there are only two locations centred around the localities of Blanco Encalada and El Cobre, south of Antofagasta. Chile.
Copiapoa solaris (F.Ritter) F.Ritter
Kakteen Südamerika 3: 1047 (1980)
- Copiapoa solaris (F.Ritter) F.Ritter
- Pilocopiapoa solaris F.Ritter
- Copiapoa ferox Lembcke & Backeb.
- Copiapoa solaris var. ferox (F.Ritter) F.Ritter
- Copiapoa solaris f. cristata hort.
- Copiapoa solaris var. fulvispina KK599 El Cobre, Blanco Encalada, 02 Antofagasta, 400m Kníže
Description: Copiapoa solaris is a slowly clumping cactus with a cushion like growth form. They are incredibly slow growing, but old plants in habitat - over centuries - will form large cushion up to 2,30 m of diameter and 90 cm tall with hundreds of heads.
Crested form: The beautiful and very rare crested form (Copiapoa solaris f. cristata) is sought after by specialized collectors and impassioned for its unique tufted appearance. It forms fan-shaped stems densely covered by stout,slightly bent amber/yellow spines, reddish-brown when young and very woolly areoles.
Stems: Fan shaped 8-12 cm in width, green to grey-green with a waxy coating presumably to prevent desiccation in it's extremely dry environment.
Ribs: Elevated, up to 3,5 cm tall, not tuberculate.
Spines: Yellow, amber or reddish-brown when young, later chalky-grey, robust, straight or slightly bent, long and interwoven.
Central spines: 2-5, 2-6 cm long.
Radial spines: 7-10, 2-3 cm long.
Flowers: Up to 3 cm long and in diameter, funnelform, yellow, occasionally with a pink or reddish coloured throat. The flowers are often almost concealed among the dense wool and spines at plant apex. Flower tube woolly (Hence the name Pilocopiapoa = hairy Copiapoa). It needs a lot of sunlight to bloom, so it's pretty rare to have blossoms when in cultivation in greenhouses.
Fruits: Woolly, up to 15 mm in diameter.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Copiapoa solaris group
- Copiapoa solaris (F.Ritter) F.Ritter: Old plants in habitat - over centuries - will form large cushion up to 2,30 m of diameter and 90 cm tall with hundreds of heads.
- Copiapoa solaris f. cristata hort.: Crested form.
- Copiapoa solaris var. fulvispina KK599 El Cobre, Blanco Encalada, 02 Antofagasta, 400m Kníže: Has amber coloured spines.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Walter, H.E., Faundez, L., Guerrero, P. & Saldivia, P. 2013. Copiapoa solaris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 09 November 2014.
2) F. Ritter “Kakteen in Sudamerika” Volume 3. 1980
3) A. Hoffmann, H. Walter “Cactáceas en la flora Silvestre de Chile” Ediciones Fundacion Claudio Gay, Santiago, Chile. Second Edition. 2004
4) G. Charles “Copiapoa. The Cactus file Handbook 4” Cirio Publ. 1998
5) R. Schulz and A. Kapitany “Copiapoa in their environment” Schulz Publishing, Teesdale, Australia. 1996
6) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
7) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/ago/2011
8) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
9) Graham Charles “Copiapoa” Cirio Pub. Services, 1999
Copiapoa solaris f. cristata Photo by: Flavio Agrosi
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Cultivation and Propagation: These plants will tolerate sun and heat, but not extended periods of frost. The crested form is more frost sensitive and should not be kept at less than -0°C . Grow them in rich, porous, sandy soil, and let their soil dry out between waterings. If potted, repot in the spring, if their roots become cramped. Generally, they should be repotted every other year in order to provide fresh soil. However, this doesn't necessarily mean they'll need larger containers. Fill about a quarter of the pot with broken crocks, gravel, etc. to promote good drainage. After repotting, do not water for a week or more. The crested plants enjoy a warm sunny environment and for more speedy growth a light position on a higher shelf with light feeding and rainwater given to the bottom of the plant will ensure success, especially with rooted detached branches, which do well in these conditions.
Propagation: Grafting. It can also be increased by cuttings, which will take root in a minimum temperature of 20° C. 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.
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