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Subfamily Cactoideae, tribe Notocacteae. The type sp. is C.marginata.
The species of the genus Copiapoa come from the Atacama Desert, on the coastline of northern Chile. The name Copiapoa comes from the city of Copiapo in N Chile.
These cacti have adapted to take their water need from the frequent fog that arises from the Pacific and moves toward the coastal hills. The habitat of Copiapoa is very harsh and the amount of rain in there is excessively low and perhaps years between the occasional rainfalls.
Copiapoa is a very characteristic genus and there is no argument about which plants are contained within it. It has no obvious close relatives in the Cactaceae, suggesting that it has passed through a long evolution period in its strictly isolated habitat niche.
Copiapoa grow in lightly sloping sand or gravel, sometimes in rock cracks. So, the potting medium must be mineral based and high grit content.
All Copiapoa sp. are tolerant of low winter temperature, 5 to 10 C being suitable if the plants are dry. They dislike excess heat and still air in summer.
The fruits of Copiapoa are specially structured for the seed dispersing by ants.
They grow slowly in cultivation, and their appearance change: the color is often different, the natural white coating of some species usually do not develop in European climates, the spination is often weaker, and even the shape becomes more elongated.
In the past, too many names were erected in the genus Copiapoa, as with many cactus genera. Nigel Taylor and Adriana Hoffman have excellent reviews for the genus and Graham Charles's book is the most comprehensive study.
In my collection, Copiapoa names are according to The New Cactus Lexicon (2006), edited by David Hunt & Graham Charles. Formerly, I used to follow G.Charles' book Copiapoa (1998).
According to the New Cactus Lexicon (2006), there are 21 species and 9 subspecies in the genus Copiapoa
01. C. ahremephiana 02a. C. calderana ssp.calderana 02b. C. calderana ssp.atacamensis 03. C. cinerascens 04a. C. cinerea ssp.cinerea 04b. C. cinerea
ssp.columna-alba 04c. C. cinerea ssp.haseltoniana 05. C. coquimbana 06. C. dealbata 07. C. decorticans 08. C. echinoides 09. C. esmeraldana 10. C. fiedleriana 11. C. grandiflora 12a. C. humilis ssp.humilis 12b. C. humilis ssp.tenuissima 12c. C. humilis ssp.tocopillana 12d. C. humilis ssp.varispinata 13a. C. hypogaea ssp.hypogaea 13b. C. hypogaea ssp.laui 14. C. krainziana 15. C. longistaminea 16. C. marginata 17a. C. megarhiza ssp.megarhiza 17b. C. megarhiza ssp.echinata 18. C. montana 19. C. serpentisulcata 20. C. solaris 21a. C. taltalensis ssp.taltalensis 21b. C. taltalensis ssp.desertorum.... note. There is a newly proposed species: C.angustiflora, in BCSS Journal vol.24/4, 2006.
To obtain some knowledge about Cactus family, and cultivation methods, seed growing, photography etc., please see MY JOURNALS page..
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Copiapoa montana 'mollicula' FR525 03