Echinocereus knippelianus


Cereus knippelianus
Echinocereus knippelianus subsp. kaplani
Echinocereus knippelianus var. reyesii
Echinocereus knippelianus subsp. reyesii


E. knippelianus is native to Mexico Northeast where the plant grows in limestone soil in grassland and can spread up to 2200 m of altitude. The cactus grows in the shade of other plants.


E. knippelianus is a rare cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The cactus has a solitary habit and in age can branch from the base. The plant can reach up to 10 cm in height and 8 cm in diameter. The stem is barrel-shaped, smooth, bluish green to dark green in color, arranged in 5-7 ribs distinct by slightly furrow. The areoles are few, small, whitish and bearing the spines. The spines are 1 to 3 small yellowish spines for areola but they are very few and thin and the cactus can be considered spineless. The roots are thick and tuberous and grow vertically downward and are specialized to withstand periods of drought. Blooming occurs from the early spring to the late summer and blossom are borne at the apex of the stem. The flowers are funnel-shaped, pinkish to magenta with bright yellow central stamens, and can reach up to 6 cm in diameter. The cactus forms small green fruits. There are other varieties of E. knippelianus which differ for the shape, the color, the flowers and the size.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand without damages are 8° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: 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. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years 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°.


The name is composed by two Latin words: Echinos, that means porcupine, and Cereus, a common and beautiful specie of columnar cacti. So the echinocereus is similar to a cereus, but thornier.

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