Habitat: Bolivian Andes, at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level!
Cultivation: Cintia is not so easy to cultivate. However, if you put it in a bright spot and never water it in Winter and only when the soil dries up in Summer, this tiny plant will reward you with its peculiar appearance.
Curiosity: Its name comes from Cinti, a Bolivian town to which these plants are native. Cintia knizei, the only species in this genus, was discovered by Karel Kníže in 1966 at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level near a town called Otavi, in the region of Potosí, in Bolivia. It was though described only in 1969 by Jan Ríha.
Cintia is a genus in the family Cactaceae that includes only one species: Cintia Knizei. This is an extremely rare plant, endemic of a small region in Bolivian Andes, at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level!
The very small size of Cinzia knizei helps it to fit in the severe climate conditions of that altitude. This plant grows in fact among the rocks, in small crevices, where it’s more protected from the intense sunlight and wind during the Summer and from the severe temperature falls in Winter. It can survive very rigid winters, as long as the soil stays dry.
Cintia knizei is in fact a solitary, tiny plant, with a diameter of 3-5 centimers and a height of 10 centimeters, and a globose, deep green, translucent, lumpy stem. The little, woolly white areoles, almost hidden between the tubercles, and don’t form spines when the plant is adult. The areoles are the buds of Cactaceae, from which the spines are usually formed. However, in some species, spines might be absent, just like in Cintia. On the other hand, young plant sometimes show 5-6 short spines.
Another feature which makes this little plant so tough are its roots: being really deep (if compared with the size of the stem) and equipped with tubers, they are able to explore a wide portion of the soil and show a great efficiency of water and nutrients absorption, which make Cintia survive in the extremely dry and poor soils of the Andes region. The tubers instead have the function to store water and nutrients, to survive the driest periods of the year.
The diurnal flowers are another incredible feature of this Cintia knizei, mainly because they have the same diameter of the plant and cover it almost completely, with their bright yellow petals.
Cinzia knizei is really sought after by succulent enthusiasts because of its small size and extreme rarity. Also, some plants show fashinating orange tinges on the stem or either are completely orange: this feature makes them even more decorative and pretty.
VARIETY AND TYPES
As already mentioned, the genus Cintia includes only one species: Cintia knizei. Check our online shop to find it!
TIPS FOR GROWING
Cintia knizei is used to extreme conditions typical of a high mountain environment. They are sensitive to root rotting, and that makes it hard to cultivate them.
- Put them in a bright spot but remember that they can also tolerate shade conditions.
- They need dry, cold conditions in Winter (0-10ºC) unless they don’t produce buds in the following Spring.
- Water your Cintia knizei very carefully: in Summer, wait always for the soil to dry completely up before each irrigation. In Winter, waterings should be suspended.
- If you keep the plant indoors, pay attention to the humidity: this plant is native to windy and dry environments, so the air should be dry: exposure to drafts is advised.
- The substrate should be very well-drained and poor in nutrients: you can either add some sand and pebbles.
- Repotting is not necessary, as the plant remains tiny and has a extremely slow growth rate. It’s important, however, to put it in a deep pots, to give space to its deep and strong roots.
Propagation can be made from seeds, cuttings, or grafts. The seeding period is usually in Spring or Summer.