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Origin and Habitat: Rio Jequitinhonha banks, north-eastern Minas Gerais, Brazil. (The area of occupancy is less than 5 square kilometres.)
Altitude: 250-300(-400?) meters above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: The species grows in south-eastern caatinga (inselberg) element, on gneissic inselbergs and rocks. It is not abundant, and is known only from a single locality and from three small subpopulations, and the population size is less than 1000 individuals. The major threat for this species is quarrying of the rock where it grows. It is also adversely affected by collection, deforestation, invasive species, fire and cattle trampling.
Coleocephalocereus purpureus (Buining & Bredero) F.Ritter
Kakteen Südamerika 1: 128. 1979
- Coleocephalocereus purpureus (Buining & Bredero) F.Ritter
- Buiningia purpurea Buining & Bredero
- Coleocephalocereus purpureus f. caespitosus
Description: Coleocephalocereus purpureus (= Buiningia purpurea) is a rare Brazilian cactus which had a magnificent cephalium growing laterally near the stem's tip. It is one of the less common species in cultivation and is characterized by pink, very melocactus-like flowers.
Growth habits: Columnar, erect, branching basally, to 90 cm high.
Stem. Deep green up to 90 cm tall, 10 cm thick
Areoles: Grey woolly.
Cephalia: to 50 cm long, with gray wool and golden yellow to brown bristles. Buiningia purpurea on its own roots can take about 5 - 7 years to develop a cephalium at the earliest, but it can vary.
Spines: Golden yellow to red, later grey.
Central spines: 4, one as long as 7 cm , others 3-3,5 cm
Radial spines 12, spreading, needle-like, somewhat curved, 12-25 mm long.
Blooming Habits: Purplish red, nocturnal, tubular flowers, up to 30 mm long and
12 mm in diameter.
Fruits: Globose to oval, shiny red, 17—25 mm long, to 17 mm in diameter.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Coleocephalocereus purpureus group
- Coleocephalocereus purpureus (Buining & Bredero) F.Ritter: Plants erect, columnar, branching basally, to 90 cm high that forms a lateral ephalium up to 50 cm long, with grey wool and golden yellow to brown bristles.
- Coleocephalocereus purpureus f. caespitosus: branches profusely from the base and forms dense, clustered mounds.
Notes: Lateral cephalia occurs in several species of cacti like Espostoa, Pseudoespostoa, Thrixanthocereus, Vatricania (now all considered to be Espostoa), Buiningia, Facheiroa, Micranthocereus and others. These plants are all columnar and grow as ribbed green juvenile columns with an ordinary sparse spine cover. Once old enough, they begin making a cephalium, but only along one side.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
2) 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/Aug/2011
3) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
4) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton: “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
9) Taylor, N.P., Machado, M. & Braun, P. 2013. Coleocephalocereus purpureus. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 06 December 2013.
10) Kakteen und andere Sukkulenten . Volume 24, number 6, pag. 121–123 1973
11) Friedrich Ritter "Kakteen in Südamerika: Ergebnisse meiner 20jährigen Feldforschungen" Selbstverlag, 1979
Cultivation and Propagation: These tropical cacti are not the easiest things to grow and aren’t plants for beginners.
Growth rate: It is a relatively rapidly growing given the best conditions.
Soils: It likes very porous standard cactus mix soil.
Repotting: The root system is weak and generally resents being repotted and can take a long time to re-establish. Use pot with good drainage.
Light: They prefer very bright light, not as much as the most arid growing cacti, but plenty nonetheless. Tends to bronze in strong light, which encourages flowering and heavy spine production.
Watering: They grow from April to October and cannot endure long stretches of total dryness, and also too much water will rot them, as their weak root systems tends to be inefficient at sucking up water from wet soil. Nonetheless, again as a result of their tropical origins, they need a fair amount of water, but allow the soil to dry quite a bit before watering again.
Fertilization: Do not feed in winter.
Hardiness: They rest from October to April but can’t stand cold, or even fairly cool temperatures, so is indispensable to keep them above 8-12°C at all times, severe damage or death occurring at temperatures that the great majority of cacti wouldn’t mind in the least and prefer more frequent water in winter than other cacti, say once a month. (but hardy to 4 C ° C for short periods). However warmth throughout the year will increase the grower's success (minimum 12° to 20° C during rest season).
Pests & diseases: It may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the vulnerable plants every day
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally they develop aerial into the new growth among the wool with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: it is only a minor problem with cacti if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: Exclusively by Seeds. Sow in February-march in a light, sandy, porous soil. Cover germinating tray with glass to prevent seed from drying out. Germination is most successful at a temperature of 18 to 22° C.
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