© Copyright by Gianluca Scibilia (Italy)
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
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
C. cinerea AW115
C. cinerea AW115
A young grafted specimen (Locality taltal)
Two seedling from the same locality (Serra
Vetata) showing the species variability
extremely slow growing cactus is kept for the beauty of its form.
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)
Seeds (or offsets if available), Grafting is often
used to speed growth rate and to create a back-up to plants in
Philippi (Britton & Rose)
Published in: The Cactaceae (3) : 86 (1922)
Antofagasta, Chañaral regions of northern Chile
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.
CITES appendix 2.
Common Names include:
Copiapoa de Philippi
- 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):