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Origin and Habitat: Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus has been recorded from Bolivia and northern Argentina, where it occurs in Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, and La Rioja
Altitude range: 500 to 1,500 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This succulent plant grows in the Andean mountains in chaco and yunga forest. Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus has a wide range, is abundant, occurs in protected areas and only parts of its range are under threat. The major threat is land use change for agriculture and goat ranching.
- Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose
Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose
Cactaceae (Britton & Rose) 2: 174. 1920 [9 Sep 1920]
- Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose
- Cereus baumannii var. smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) K.Schum.
- Cereus colubrinus var. smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) Gürke
- Cereus smaragdiflorus F.A.C.Weber
- Cleistocactus colubrinus var. smaragdiflorus (F.A.C.Weber) Rol.-Goss.
- Cleistocactus ferrarii R.Kiesling
- Cleistocactus rojoi Cárdenas
- Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus f. rojoi (Cárdenas) F.Ritter
- Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus var. flavispinus Borg
- Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus var. gracilior Backeb.
Description: The fire-cracker cactus, Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus, is a shrubby cactus species at first erect, then crawling on the ground with long basally branching stems, up to 1.5 metres tall and 6 metres in spread. It greatly resembles Cleistocactus baumannii in size and appearance except that the spines are usually shorter and darker and the scarlet flowers are tipped with emerald green. Distinguished by the brilliant emerald green tip to its red flower, this free-blooming species is slimmer than Cleistocactus strausii, but not nearly so well known.
Derivation of specific name: Latin 'smaragdinus', emeraldgreen; and Latin '-florus', -flowered; for the bright emerald-green tipped flowers.
Stems: Cylindrical, slender, arching to creeping, 2 to 2.5(-3) cm in diameter branching basally.
Ribs: Low, 12 to 14.
Areoles: Pale brown-felted.
Radial spines: 10-14, acicular, to 10 mm long.
Central spines: 4-6, porrect, several, stouter, 15-35 mm long, yellowish to dark brown.
Flowers: Small, 4 to 5 cm long, straight, tubular, a little constricted above the pericarpels, the tube and ovary red to pink; upper scales on flower-tube and outer perianth-segments with a long mucro. Outer perianth-segments yellow, inner perianth-segments small, bright green to emerald green, acute to mucronate not spreading. Stamens included. Style slightly exserted. Stigma-lobes 5 to 8, green.
Fruits: Globose, to 1.5 cm in diameter.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) 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
2) David Hunt, Nigel Taylor “The New Cactus Lexicon” DH Books, 2006
3) Edward F. Anderson “The Cactus Family” Timber Press, 2001
4) N. L. Britton and J. N. Rose “The 'Cactaceae', Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the 'Cactus' Family” volume 2 Carnegie Institution, 1920
5) Demaio, P., Lowry, M., Ortega-Baes, P., Perea, M. & Trevisson, M. 2013. Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152332A624859. . Downloaded on 26 February 2016.
6) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Glossary of Botanical Terms with Special Reference to Succulent Plants.” British Cactus and Succulent Society, Richmond 1993
7) Haustein, “Der Kosmos-Kakteenfiihrer” 1983
8) Cullmann W., Götz E., Gröner G.”Kakteen: Kultur, Vermehrung und Pflege - Lexikon der Gattungen und Arten” Ulmer, Stuttgart, 1984
9) Navarro, G. “Catálago ecológico preliminar de las cactáceas de Bolivia.” Lazaroa 17: 33–84.1996.
10) Zuloaga, F.O., O. Morrone, M. J. Belgrano, C. Marticorena & E. Marchesi. (eds.) “Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur (Argentina, Sur de Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay).” Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 107(1): i–xcvi, 1–983; 107(2): i–xx, 985–2286; 107(3): i–xxi, 2287–3348. 2008.
Cultivation and Propagation: Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus is a a much decorative hardy cactus.
Soil: Grow it in a rich and particularly draining substratum, as it is very sensitive to rottenness when in presence of humidity and low temperatures and let the soil dry out between waterings.
Water: In summer, during the vegetative period, it must be regularly watered, but allowing the substratum to completely dry up before irrigating again; in winter, it’s to be kept dry. Preferable not to water on overcast days, humid days or cold winter days.
Hardiness: This is one of hardiest of the woolly columnar cacti from Bolivia that grow at an altitude of up to 1000 meters. It is a frost resistant cactus, hardy to -7°(or even less if very dry). However in cultivation it is better not to expose it to temperatures lower than 0° C, even if in an aerated and protected location, in order to avoid the formation of anti-aesthetic spots on the epidermis. In presence of high atmospheric humidity avoid any frost as it is particularly sensitive to root rot.
Exposure: It need full sun exposures with ample airflow to produce dense hairs, but, as a former mountain dweller, does not care for extremely high temperatures in summer.
Maintenance: Repot in the spring, when their roots become cramped. Generally, they should be repotted every other year in order to provide fresh soil. After repotting, do not water for a week or more.
Use: Excellent as landscape or patio plant. It is suitable for small “desert” gardens, in association with other xerophytes. Where the open air cultivation is not possible due to the climate, it is to be cultivated in pot in order to shelter it in winter.
Propagation: By seeds and by cuttings, provided left drying up well, in summer.
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