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  Copiapoa cinerea CACTUSPEDIA       

 


Photo and © Copyright by Gianluca Scibilia (Italy)
Copiapoa cinerea
This is one of the most popular and attractive of the Copiapoas, due to its ash-grey to white coloured epidermis with typically black spines and wooly crown when mature.  Unfortunately it is also slow growing, and therefore one of the most sought-after species in cultivation.
 

Description: Copiapoa cinerea is one of the most admired species of cacti with chalky/white stems covered with wool at the apex, which contrasts well with the sparse, jet-black spines. It is a solitary, or slowly offsetting, globular to columnar cactus. It is an extremely variable species with many forms, sometimes with long spines or others spineless like Ritter's "tenebrosas".
Stems: Up to 1.2 m tall, 10-20 cm in diameter. The white coloration is a waxy coating presumably to prevent dessication in it's extremely dry environment.  In cultivation the white waxy bloom is often not produced, revealing a brownish epidermis.
Ribs: 12-30 broad, obtuse;
Central spines: 1 or 2 up to long, terete, black;
Radial spines: 0 to 7
Flowers: Yellow funnelform, 1.5 to 2.5 cm in diameter, occasionally with a pink or reddish tint. The Ovary is naked;  it needs a lot of sunlight to bloom, so it's pretty rare to have blossoms when in cultivation in greenhouses.
Fruit: 1.5 to 2 cm. long;
Seeds: Black and shining.
Remarks: This is a very variable species, as is demonstrated by the number of varieties and their synonyms. The several classifications and reclassifications provide evidence of the confusion that rules regarding the names used in this highly variable species. It seems that many of botanists and hobbyists who have studied Copiapoa in habitat have formed their own concepts of what names should be applied to which plants. It is relatively easy to attribute some key features that dominate in certain populations, but it is equally possible to look more closely at plants in these populations, to find individuals that 'break the rules' and would easily fit another population's dominant characteristics.
 


C. cinerea AW115

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C. cinerea AW115


A young grafted specimen (Locality taltal)

Two seedling from the same locality (Serra Vetata) showing the species variability

Cultivation: This extremely slow growing cactus is kept for the beauty of its form.  It must be protected from excessive heat and sun in summer, and seems to do best in cultivation with a bit of shade.  It requires light but regular waterings in summer, but let the soil mix dry between waterings,  Prone to rot if over-watered.  Needs good drainage.  Keep warm and dry in winter (10°C) to avoid rot.  Not highly tolerant of a great deal of frost. (Frost tolerance 0°C)

Propagation: Seeds (or offsets if available), Grafting is often used to speed growth rate and to create a back-up to plants in collection.

Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Copiapoa cinerea Philippi (Britton & Rose)
Published in: The Cactaceae (3) : 86 (1922)

Origin:  Antofagasta, Chañaral regions of northern Chile

Habitat: Coastal areas of South America, where it grows in areas where very little else grows. It's a very drought tolerant species. Despite the lack of rain where it lives, the extreme aridity is attenuated by the frequent, often dense, coastal fogs. The fog tends to concentrate in the form of a cloud band at an estimated height of 500 to 850 m. It shows a recurrent pattern; usually it is overcast in the early mornings, the clouds dissipating during the late morning and returning during the late afternoons.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: Copiapoa de Philippi

Synonyms:  

  • Echinocactus cinereus PHILIPPI, R. A.
    Fl. Atac. 23.1860
    (Original description)
  • Copiapoa melanohystrix
  • Copiapoa columna-alba
  • Copiapoa albispina
 




C. cinerea AW84 (carrizalensis)

 


 

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Copiapoa cinerea  complex. (This taxon has lots of synonyms (like most copiapoa, with several controversial varieties and subspecies):

 

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery COPIAOA



 

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This old page has been moved! Click the link next on the right to enter the new Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.

The Encyclopedia of Cacti