In: Studies of South
American Cactaceae, Cactus & Succulent Journal (USA), 25(2): 34-37;
Original Description: Echinocactus humilis
Philippi Not Pfeiffer,
Atacamensis 23. 1860. 1837
Antofagasta, to the north of Paposo, towards Blanco Encalada,Chile.
(Type locality: Paposo, Antofagasta, Chile)
Native to the coastal deserts on
the steep mountain base among fragmented stones. 50-300 m of altitude.
long tuberous root of this copiapoa is buried deeply in these soils
which are very poor in organic matter. In the area where this plants
grows there is very little rain but frequent coastal fog, which provides
a significant part of their water needs.The
common presence in habitat of plants with juvenile spination forms on
old taproots is due to the frequent grazing damage inflicted by donkeys.
CITES appendix 2.
small low growing cactus sometime solitary but usually clumping
at the base.
It's a highly variable taxon with several more or less similar forms
that could be described as local varieties. Taylor suggests that this is
a very complex species or species aggregate, perhaps representing
geographical varieties or, in some cases, critical species, listed here
in sequence from north to south: C. tocopillana,
C. tenuissima, C.
C. paposoensis, C. taltalensis,
C. longispina and possibly C.
In considering C. humilis species, we need to bear
in mind the remarkable differences between young plants, with short,
thin spination and the darker coloration of the body compared to the
more robust adults with longer and sturdy, flexible spines.
Stem: Subglobular, depressed, pale olive -green to tan producing
copious wool in the apex. . 2.5-9 cm. broad by 2-6 cm. high.
Ribs: About 8-14 forming distinct tubercles.
Areoles: Well separated, with white wool.
Root: Large tap-root,
connected to the stem by long slender neck. Seedlings naturally produce
the huge tap root, starting from germination, i.e. before the plant stem
Radial spines: About 7-13, thin, needle-like, setaceous, greyish,
open wide on sides, 2-25 mm long.
Central spine: 1 to 4, sometime absent on juvenile specimen,
fairly slender, erect, grey, straight or curved 10-35 mm long.
Flower: 2-4 cm. long, corolla sulphur yellow, scented. In
cultivation in the C. humilis are able to flower from immature stems at
an early age (c. 2 years from germination) and set viable seed.
Fruit: Round, naked, bright red, up to 8 mm long.