Echidnopsis nubica


This name is a synonym of Echidnopsis cereiformis. Other synonyms are:

Apteranthes cylindrica
Apteranthes tessellata
Boucerosia cylindrica
Echidnopsis cereiformis
Echidnopsis cereiformis var. obscura
Echidnopsis cylindrica
Echidnopsis nubica
Echidnopsis tessellata
Stapelia cylindrica


Echidnopsis nubica is native to south-eastern Sudan and Ethiopia. Its habitat are semi-arid areas, where it can be found commonly associated with Capparis tomentosa, Caralluma pencillata, Cucumis prophetarum and some Aloe species including Aloe abyssinica.


Echidnopsis nubica is a succulent plant made of a bunch of cylindric stems that looks definitely like a tiny cacti, though it’s not. It belongs in fact to the family of Asclepiadaceae (cacti’s family is “Cactaceae”). This is probably an example of the phenomenon known, in Ecology, as “convergent evolution”: genera or even families of plants which are totally unrelated from a phylogenetic point of view, that develop similar morphological adaptations to cope with similar environmental condition, which in this case are rocky, arid habitats. The stems of Echidnopsis nubica are finger-shaped, erect (unlike other Echidnopsis species in which stems are falling and look like tentacle), curved upwards, bright green, divided into hexagonal tubercles, slightly pointed (nipple-shaped), with a white apex that look like the areola of cacti (areola are white buds typical of cacti, from which the spines usually grow). The brownish-orange flowers are fashinating and classy: they have a bell-shaped, 5-lobed corolla, with dark-purplish-black central lines and the reproductive organs that create kind of a geometric pattern. Corolla lobes can be dotted in microscopic bumps. The central part of the corolla has usually a yellowish part, irregularly fading into the darker colour of the lobes.


Echidnopsis nubica is not difficult to grow. Here below are our tips:

Echidnopsis usually require plenty of light during the year. E. nubica, in particular, prefers filtered sunlight or partial shade. Avoid a direct exposure in the hottest hours of Summer days.
Keep your Echidnopsis nubica at a temperature above 10 °C. Place it indoors during the winter, possibly with plenty of light.
Water moderately, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before every irrigation. 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. In the case of hot weather, this species enjoys plenty of water, always letting the soil dry up before each irrigation.
The ideal soil is well-draining and porous, better if further enriched with 50% or more of inert materials such as pumice, lapilli or clay. A cactus mix will be okay, also because this species shows a particularly shallow root system.
Fertilize once a year during the growing season with a specific fertilizer for succulents, low in Nitrogen and rich in Phosphorus and Potassium, diluting it in water at half the doses recommended on the label.
Echidnopsis nubica is a slow-growing species and, thus, it’s sufficient to repot it every two years.


Propagation of Echidnopsis is usually carried out through seeds to be sown in Spring in a sandy substrate, or through stem cuttings, as its stems easily put root when planted. The cut stem should be allowed to dry up for a day before being planted. Lie it (without burying it) on the substrate, that should be maintained moist until the cutting puts roots.


The name “Echidnopsis” comes 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.

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