What an odd little cactus!
In yesterday’s post about my visit to Annie’s Annuals & Perennials in Richmond, CA, I forgot to mention what is possibly the strangest plant I bought. When I first saw it on one of the succulent tables, I thought it was a euphorbia or some other stem succulent from Southern Africa. However, it turned out to be an actual cactus! (In botanical terms, cacti are exclusive to the New World. While many African euphorbias look like cacti, they are not in the cactus family.)
This particular cactus has a real tongue twister of a name: Maihuenia poeppigii. It is native to the higher elevations (above 6000 ft.) of southern Chile where it may be covered with snow for several months. It can withstand temperatures down to 5°F and, curiously enough, tolerates quite a bit of water since it grows in areas with high rainfall alternating with periods of drought. However, coming from a high-altitude environment, Maihuenia poeppigii doesn’t seem to like hot summers too much. This means that I will need to give it afternoon shade when temperatures get into the 90s and beyond.
Maihuenia poeppigii forms dense mats consisting of hundreds of segments. The flowers, which appear in spring, are large (2 inches across) and lemon yellow in color. They are followed by 3 inch edible fruits (check this photo).
|Maihuenia poeppigii in flower|
My idea for this odd-looking cactus is to plant it in a shallow hypertufa dish and add pieces of rock to imitate its natural environment. What a great incentive for me to finally delve into the art and science of hypertufa!