Sunday, February 12, 2012

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Copiapoa tenuissima, spirals of woolly areoles on maroon bodies

February, 2012, is too mild in Southern California to be called "the dead of winter". While some plants have slowed down drastically, others have reawakened and are pushing new flower buds. My Copiapoa tenuissima is pictured in full bloom with yellow flowers sharply contrasting against the dark maroon body.

In early February, the most active cacti and succulents are plants from regions with winter rainfall (or fog), typically near western coasts. Copiapoa tenuissima follows this general rule since it comes from around Chile's Pacific Ocean (western) port city of Antofagasta.

Look at the 10 or 11 new heads branching off from the central body. These can be re-rooted and grown as new plants, though it takes a while for a detached head to grow new roots.

The currently accepted name is Copiapoa humilis subspecies tenuissima, since the original description of Copiapoa tenuissima was invalid. I'm mildly dissatisfied with this classification for sentimental reasons: Copiapoa humilis is a rough and lumpy species which grows fast and messy. By contrast, this Copiapoa tenuissima seems to be rather elegant.

See Also

Hunt, David. 2006. The New Cactus Lexicon. dh books. The Manse, Chapel Lane, Milborne Port, Sherborne DT9 5DL, England.

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