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Yavia cryptocarpa CACTUS ART

Cultivation and Mail Sale
of Cacti and Succulents.

Yavia cryptocarpa
This is one of the rarest of all known cactuses , found at 3700 m elevation in northern Argentina.


Description: Yavia is a small-sized, mostly underground monospecific species with strongly camouflaged aspect vaguely remembering of Epithelantha micromeris. And most of it is a tuberous root !
Stem: Single, more rarely with two or more heads, very small; (in habitat a specimen of 25mm diameter is an extraordinarily fat and old plant). They have a flat top, with a woolly depression in the centre. This superior disk is the only visible part of the plant and the only part receiving the sunís rays. The lateral part of the stem is almost cylindrical and is rugose. Cultivated plants change dramatically in their aspect and become soon elonged.
Roots: Conical, succulent, they are a continuation of the underground stem.
Areoles: Ordered in several lines that are not really ribs, just small undulations for which the term tubercles is perhaps too much. In cultivation areoles are whitish and hairy.
Spines: Small, at top of the plant 0.3 to 0.7mm long, and barely visible without the aid of a magnifying lens. The older spines soon become decrepit, more or less destroyed.
Flowers and fruit: One or more flowers are produced from the centre of the plant at one time. This deep centre, which is full of hairs that protect the fruit during its development over several months, is where the fruit dries and dehisces and where the new buds expel the fruits and seeds for dispersal.
The fruit splits from the base. The very thin wall of the fruit looks like thin, brown translucent paper.
Seeds: The number of seeds produced in each fruit vary from 1 to 7 seeds or occasionally more (up to 25)
Flowers: Yellow to lime green buds appear in late spring and are followed by beautiful pink flowers (ca 20 mm in diameter)

Yavia is a very strange cactus that might be related with Cintia, Blossfeldia, Weingartia and Neowerdermannia.


Cultivation  The plants need deep pots to accommodate the napiform unit formed by the stem base and the rootstock , and a loose mineral soil with a well-drained substrate. They need a good amount of light, a place near the roof of the greenhouse helps dry out the pot after watering. This can be done weekly during the summertime, if the weather is sunny enough, with a little fertilizer added. Kept this way, plants will show a healthy, although slow growth. They are frost hardy to -10įC.

Propagation: By seeds, remembering that  seedlings dislike strong light and dry conditions  and need to be repotted frequently. Plants are often grafted to accelerate growth, as they would generally take at least a decade to reach maturity on their own, but the grafted plants are typically rather tall-growing, compared with plants on their own roots, that are usually very flat to the ground.


Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Yavia cryptocarpa.

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

Photo gallery YAVIA




Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name:  Yavia cryptocarpa R. Kiesling & Piltz,
gen. & sp. nov. Kakteen Succ. 52(3): 57-63, 2001.

Origin:  Only known from a small area just on the Argentinian side of the border with Bolivia, in the province of Jujuy, near La Quiaca, at 3,700m., although the species surely has a wider distribution.

Habitat: It grows in a desert, or more strictly a poor, semi-desert where the rare bushes are separated, several meters apart. Sparse temporary grasses can be found for some weeks after the rains, which fall between December and March, but it is possible also to have some rainfall from October to April. The Yavia is a cactus adapted to extremes, cold, drought and a low nutrient, and grows in the crevices of the rocky soil, on the horizontal or on gentle slopes normally just at the level of the soil surface or even lower, immersed in the crevices. Some are even covered by small pebbles. Their extreme rough conditions force them to live almost underground. When the rains come, they swell, and peek up to reach for the sun. When drought starts, they simply dry down under the surface, and get covered with a protecting layer of dust. Their life is only maintained in the swollen root, the caudex.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Etymology: The genus is named after Argentina's department Yavi, Jujuy province. The species 'cryptocarpa' refers to the plant being a cryptocarp. This means that the fruits are formed inside the plant's body, thus being only visible when the plant shrinks in the drought period.



A specimen grafted on Opuntia compressa

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.