Austrocactus bertinii (gracilis?)
Forms a slender dark
olive green column, the spines are hooked and stout, the lower and
longest about 3-4 cm long, yellowish-brown to almost black. Older spines
are grey and provide effective camouflage in habitat.
Description: A. Bertinii
forms a low column of more or less hooked spines, simple or branched at
base with several stems. This plant is extremely variable especially for
the presence of hooked spines and size of the stems. The several forms
found in the vast distribution area have received different specific
names, but all them show a continuous variation, so it is extremely
difficult to establish the limit from one species to another.
Stems: 20-30(-50) cm tall and 3-5(-8) cm in diameter, dark olive
green slender cylindrical to cylindrical
(A thin growing form with stem of only 1-2 cm in diameter is known as
Ribs: Up to 12 prominent and tuberculate.
Areoles: Circular yellowish-felted about 1 cm apart.
Central spines: 1 to 4, hooked or somewhat arched, stout, the
lower and longest about 3-4(-6) cm long, yellowish-brown to almost
black. Older spines are grey and provide effective camouflage in
Radial spines: 6-10 light coloured, up to 1,5 cm long.
Flowers: Diurnal, up to 10 cm in diameter and 6 cm long, pinkish
or yellowish sometime with some violet, borne on the upper part of the
areoles near the top of the plant. Stigma lobes numerous, red or purple.
Stamens in two series the lower forming a ring around the style. Tube
and ovary very spiny with woolly hairs and bristles.
Fruit: Nearly dry, globose, spiny with wool and bristles, flower
Seed: broadly oval, flattened.
Scientific name: Austrocactus
bertinii (Cels ex Herincq) Britton et Rose
In: The Cactaceae,
descriptions and illustrations of plants of the cactus family 3: 44-45
fig. 56 1922
Southern Argentina (Nèquen, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz)
Habitat: Grows on rocky
soils, often among scrubs and grasses.
Conservation status: Listed in
CITES appendix 2.
Common English Names include:
Etymology: The generic name
is from the Latin “australis” meaning “southern”
The species was named after the French ship Captain and plant collector
in Patagonia M. Bertin who collected this plant at 45° South
(Near Puerto Camarones, Chubut) during the 1859 -1860 trip.
- Cereus bertinii Cels ex
- Malacocarpus bertinii (Cels
ex Herincq) Hosseus 1939
- Notocactus bertinii (Cels
ex Herincq) W.T.Marshall 1941 (1949?)
- Austrocactus duseni (F.A.C.Weber)
In:Anales de la Sociedad
Cientifica Argentina: Seccion Santa Fe 96: 69 1923
- Austrocactus gracilis
In: Beitrage zur
Sukkulentenkunde und -pflege 58, fig. 1942
- Austrocactus gracilis Backeb.
In: Beitr. Sukkulentenk.
Sukkulentenpflege 1942, 58 (1942)
Cultivation: Austrocactus are relatively easy to grow, providing they are kept cold, but dry
during autumn and winter. However difficult
to find high quality plants of this species in cultivation, A.
bertinii loves a very
mineral soil as well as to be strictly
kept dry throughout the
winter quiescent period since it is very
sensitive to any
moisture excesses, To prevent
rottenness it is also advisable to surround its
root neck by very rough
grit, this help a fast water
drainage and an appropriate
It is essential to give full sun
otherwise they will become atypical. If grown in full sun, the new
growth will flower in spring and summer.
Overwinter in a cool place (at -5/10°C) this is important for
the flowers as well as for plants
health. Without this cool winter period they normally wont get
Frost Tolerance: Very frost hardy can withstand
temperatures down to minus 20° C (or less).
Needs a full sun exposure ( light shadow my be useful in the
hottest summer days)
cutting (For its
sensitive roots this species is frequently
grafted to avoid root problems)