Sunday, August 25, 2013

Andean treasure

Maihuenia poeppigii cluseup
All cacti seem to have miraculous flowers, but there is something about this pale moonlight shade I find especially pleasing. The genus Maihuenia has been assumed to be closely related to Opuntia, although I understand that recent analysis shows they may be a much more primitive: like Pereskia, but unlike Opuntia, Maihuenia keeps its leaves year around--a charming trait for a cactus! I'm talking true leaves now, not stems (the skinny green lozenges between the spines below)... 
Further back
This plant at Sandy Snyder's garden blooms reliably and profusely every year.

A plant at Sandy's
For many years I thought this was about as big as these were apt to get in cultivation...then last week I visited Bill Spain, son of John Spain, who wrote a hardy cactus tome... 
Bill Spain with champion Maihuenia
 Bill brought John around to see me ten or more years ago, and apparently I shared a pot of this Maihuenia at the time...

Maihuenia poeppigii over 1 meter across!
He planted it and it has spread to almost 50" across! I have seen this plant in the central valley of Chile where it got a foot or two across. I have seen pictures of this taken in the Andes that show it forming large masses--but I am sure this plant is the champion Maihuenia in the Northern Hemisphere!

Thank you, Bill, for letting us visit--and sharing so many cuttings of this(and a lot of other gems too!)


  1. I hope mine gets that big! Did he offer any tips on getting it to that size?

  2. What an unusual cactus. Amazing plant. I'm guessing it wouldn't survive planted out in the UK, even in London.

  3. I have seen fabulous Maihuenia poeppigii in coastal Oregon and near Seattle, Spiky Obsession: I have no doubt that you could grow it very well indeed--given drainage and a sunny spot. This ranges from Mediterranean climate valleys to alpine heights--and can take more moisture than most cacti in my experience.

    Susan--he has this in Boulder soil (i.e.--clay) along his driveway: no special soil or care.

  4. THAT is Awesome! This is one of my Favorite Cactus! I've wanted one for many years! One day I'll find a nursery with plants and not just seeds. Thanks for sharing the pics!

  5. usually has this (although not last year)--I have a hunch he has a few in reserve, however. And Beaver Creek Alpines in British Columbia lists both an alpine and a steppe accession from Volcan Antuco in Chile!

    So no need to wait, Cactushead!

    1. Thanks Acantholimon. The first one is not listing any, but Beaver Creek is. I'm assuming, being in the USA, they'll ship from the Washington address.

  6. Opuntia-like flower to be sure, but the foliage seems that of an iceplant. Always a nice, new plant for me. Maybe I should torture some in Abq or El Paso?

  7. I have seen Maihuenia poeppigii at the Betty Ford Garden in trough .

  8. Beaver Creek does indeed ship to the USA. And they are Awesome, Cactushead! You will be spending a lot of money, alas.


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