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Origin and Habitat: Tunilla soehrensii is widely distributed in Argentina (Jujuy, Salta, and Tucumán), Peru (Arequipa, Puno, Moquegua, and Tacna), south through the Bolivian Altiplano ( La Paz and Oruro) into Chile (Arica y Parinacota, Tarapacá, and Antofagasta ). Tunilla soehrensii is widespread and abundant in portions of its range
Altitude range: It grows at elevations from 2,000 to 3,800 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This species grows in shrublands and high altitude grasslands, in the heat of the sun and in the shadow of nurse plants. This species may be favored by livestock grazing. It is not exposed to any major threat. This cactus has no conservation problems and is present in several protected areas.
- Tunilla soehrensii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt & Iliff
Tunilla soehrensii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt & Iliff
Cactaceae Syst. Init. 9: 11. 2000
- Tunilla soehrensii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt & Iliff
- Airampoa boliviensis (Backeb.) Doweld
- Opuntia boliviensis Backeb. in Backeb. & Kunth
- Opuntia multiareolata Backeb., Backeb.
- Opuntia soehrensii Britton & Rose
- Platyopuntia soehrensii (Britton & Rose) F.Ritter
- Tephrocactus soehrensii (Britton & Rose) G.D.Rowley
- Opuntia cedergreniana Backeb. in Backeb. & F.M.Knuth
- Opuntia obliqua Backeb.
- Tunilla tilcarensis (Backeb.) D.R.Hunt & Iliff
ENGLISH: Airampo cactus
SPANISH (Español): Ayrampu, Airampo
Description: Tunilla soehrensii is a low low growing cactus, often prostrate and creeping , rooting on under-edges of growth. It forms masses usually 1 meter in diameter or less
Derivation of specific name: “soehrensii” For Prof. Johannes Sohrens (t 1934), German botanist and later director of the Botanical Garden at Santiago de Chile.
Stem (cladodes): At first erect or ascending, finally prostrate and rooting and forming new colonies, flattened, orbicular, sometimes inequilateral or crescent shaped, somewhat tuberculate, very spiny, 4-6 cm long, green, often purplish.
Areoles: Close set, as many as 60 or more per segment.
Leaves: Very small falling off early.
Spines: 2-12, usually 5-8, needle-like, stout, rather variable in color,
usually yellowish to brownish, erect, unequal, spreading, on most areoles, the longest ones
to 7 cm long.
Flowers: Mostly yellow, occasionally orange or red, 3-5.5 cm long; pericarpels with areoles nearly to bases, bristly above. Sepals brown; filaments yellow; style white; stigma-lobes green.
Fruits: to 2.5(-3) cm long, lacking areoles below, with some spines to 2 cm long above.
Seeds: 3 to 3.5 mm. broad, ovate, thickish, with narrow margin and roughened sides.
Taxonomy notes: According to Kiesling & Ferrari (2005, 29), in habitat the boundaries between species of the genus Tunilla are not so well defined. More precisely, the boundaries are not so defined between Tunilla soehrensii and Tunilla tilcarensis.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Tunilla soehrensii group
- Tunilla soehrensii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt & Iliff: has flattened, semicircular stems 4-6 cm long, covered with long yellowish to brown needle-like spines, Flowers yellow to red. Distribution: Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
- Tunilla tilcarensis (Backeb.) D.R.Hunt & Iliff: Fruits split either horizontally, or vertically on the umbilicus. Distribution: Argentina, where it occurs in Jujuy, more specifically in Tilcara
- Tunilla tilcarensis cv. Fuchs: is a very compact cushion cactus with fox-brown spines 6 to 13 cm in length. Beautiful in contrast to the bright yellow flowers.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Kiesling, R., Demaio, P., Cáceres, F., Faundez, L., Walter, H.E. & Saldivia, P. 2013. Tunilla soehrensii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 10 June 2015.
2) David Hunt, Nigel Taylor “The New Cactus Lexicon” DH Books, 2006
3) Edward F. Anderson “The Cactus Family” Timber Press, 2001
4) 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/August/2011
5) Nathaniel Lord Britton, Joseph Nelson Rose “Cactaceae: Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family” vol. 1 The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1919
6) Edgar Heim “Flora of Arequipa, Peru: A Field Guide for Nature Lovers” BoD – Books on Demand, 01 December 2014
7) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer Science & Business Media, 29 June 2013
8) Roberto Kiesling, Omar E. Ferrari “100 Cactus Argentinos” Editorial Albatros, 30/June/2005
Cultivation and Propagation: Tunilla soehrensii is a low maintenance groundcover plant that tolerate considerable neglect and will naturalize, it is drought-tolerant; and suitable for xeriscaping.
Growing rate: It is relatively fast-growing species; in cultivation with generous irrigation it sprawls to form large low mounds in only a few years. It is suitable for hanging baskets too.
Soils: Easy to cultivate outdoor in dry, sandy or gravely, well-drained soils. May be grown in clay soils as long as drainage is good and soils do not remain wet, it is very adaptable both in acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils, but prefers a pH in the range 6 to 7.5.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Feeding: During the beautiful season it’s good to enrich the soil using a fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorous, but poor in nitrogen, because this chemical element doesn’t help the development of succulent plants, making them too soft and full of water.
Watering Needs: Outdoors little or no water once established, in the green house irrigate regularly from March to october, keep fairly dry in winter, tolerate dry condition but suffer if exposed to prolonged and severe drought. A position at the base of a south-facing wall or somewhere that can be protected from winter rain is best for this plant, but is however resistant to moisture and rain.
Sun Exposure: Full sun, in semi shaded position wont produce many flowers.
Frost hardiness: They are reasonably cold hardy , tolerating temperatures down to -5° to -15° C (or even less) depending on clone, they are also quite tolerant of winter wet. (In good drained soils)
Heat Tolerance: Excellent.
Pest & diseases: No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mealy-bugs.
Propagation: Propagated by cuttings of leaf pads at any time in the growing season. (Allow cut surface to callus over before planting).
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