C. goebelianus is native to Brazil Northeast and Brazil Southeast where the plant grows on rocky ground and can spread up to 1000 m of altitude.
C. goebelianus is a small succulent belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The solitary stem is spherical in young and barrel-shaped in age. The plant can reach up to 4,5 m in height. The stem is dark green and it is arranged in 10-20 vertical ribs. The whitish areoles bear 8-10 brown, thin, flattened central spines and 15-20 sharp, white radial spines arranged in a star shape. Plants can start to grow a cephalium when a metre or so tall. The cephalium is a flower-bearing, woolly and densely bristled outgrowth at the top of the stem. The flowers are bell-shaped, nocturnal to favor the bat-pollination, and are white in color and large.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 15°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Its name derives from Greek and literally means “sheathed head”, referring to the cephalium that develops at the apex as the plant grows up, or a downy spherical “head” from which large nocturnal flowers bloom. Another reference in the name is the term “cereus”, which indicates its typically columnar habit. The specific name “goebelianus” is due to prof. Dr. Karl I. E. Goebel (1855–1932), German botanist and director of the Botanical Garden München.
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