ISI 2016-2. Copiapoa dealbata F. Ritter

This is one of the species of this Chilean genus that cactus enthusiasts yearn to see when travelling to Chile. In the fog zone of the Atacama Desert it forms impressive mounds that dominate the landscape in places in a virtual monoculture. These mounds are composed of ashen, globular stems with contrasting black spines. Pale yellow flowers to about 2.5 cm (1") wide emerge from among the needle-like spines at the tips of the ribbed stems. Some of the larger clumps to more than a meter across may be hundreds of years old, so slowly do they grow, watered only by fogs, as actual rain can be nonexistent for years at a time. Cultivated seedlings such as those offered here are so different as to appear to be another species entirely. They are green-bodied and tuberculate with stout, often recurved spines. The whitish epidermis only develops in time and with very bright light. The species is known only from a 15 km strip along the coast from Carrizal Bajo north, hence the synonym C. carrizalensis. We offer later generation plants grown from seed originally collected in habitat. HBG 126025, $7.

Photo © 2016 by Karen Zimmerman. Images may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Published in the Cactus and Succulent Journal, Vol. 88 (3), May-June, 2016