Echidnopsis

Family: Apocynaceae
Habitat: Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula
Cultivation: The crawling attitude of their stems make these succulents perfect for a hanging pot or, in general, as houseplant. Plenty of light, careful watering and mild temperatures (above 10ºC) will be sufficient to make your Echinopsis thrive.
Curiosity: Its name derives from Greek and literally means “with the appearance of a snake”, referring to its stems which, in most species, with growth tend to crawl on the ground.

KEY FEATURES

Echidnopsis is a genus of succulent plants belonging to the family Apocynaceae, native to eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula but widespread all over the temperate zones of the world. Its name derives from Greek and literally means “with the appearance of a snake”, referring to its stems which, in most species, with growth tend to crawl on the ground.

They are often confused with cacti due to the longitudinal ribs, the hexagonal tubercles and the microscopic thorns sprouting off the tubercles. Their crawling, prostrate attitude make them the perfect ornamental houseplants.

In their natural, arid habitat, they tend to form untidy shrubs, which look like some impressive bunches of tentacles, as the prostrate, serpent-like stems easily put roots as they touch the ground.

Their stems are erect and slender or either prostrate (depending on the species), greyish-green, maximum 40
-50 centimers long. They have 10-12 prominent ribs, made of lined exagonal tubercles, and are spineless, or equipped with short, soft thorns. As the stems age, they tend to branch at the base, forming cluttered heads.

Their blooming season occurs in Summer, when the plant form numerous, flashy solitary flowers, borne by short peduncles at the top of the stems.

Flowers may be white, yellow, orange or red, depending on the species, are star-shaped, have succulent petals, and end up to form pods full of tiny seeds.

Their roots are usually fibrous or, rarely, form rhizomes.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Here below are the accepted species of Echidnopsis:

  • E. angustiloba
  • E. archeri
  • E. ballyi
  • E. bentii
  • E. bihenduhensis
  • E. cereiformis
  • E. chrysantha
  • E. ciliata
  • E. dammanniana
  • E. ericiflora
  • E. globosa
  • E. inconspicua
  • E. insularis
  • E. leachii
  • E. malum
  • E. mijerteina
  • E. milleri
  • E. montana
  • E. multangula
  • E. planiflora
  • E. radians
  • E. repens
  • E. rubrolutea
  • E. scutellata
  • E. seibanica
  • E. sharpei
  • E. similis
  • E. socotrana
  • E. squamulata
  • E. urceolata
  • E. virchowii
  • E. watsonii
  • E. yemenensis

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TIPS FOR GROWING

Echidnopsis are not difficult plants to grow. The species with prostrate stems which look like tentacles are perfect for hanging pots. Here are our cultivation tips:

  • Echidnopsis require plenty light during the year, so put them in a bright spot but avoid direct sunlight especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  • It is preferable to keep it at mild temperatures and never below 10 °C. It’s thus recommended to shelter it during the winter period.
  • Water moderately, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each watering. It is sufficient to water once a week in spring and summer, once every two months in autumn, and to suspend completely any irrigation in winter.
  • The best soil is well-draining and porous, better if further enriched with 50% or more of inert materials such as pumice, lapilli or clay.
  • They do not need frequent fertilization: it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year.

Propagation of Echidnopsis is usually carried out through seeds, by sowing in Spring, or through stem cuttings, as Echidnopsis’s stems easily put root when planted.

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