Echinofossulocactus coptonogonus is native to Mexico, where it grows in semi-desertic habitats on calcareous and volcanic soils, at variable altitude. Though this species suffers the effect of illegal collection, its populations are numerous and, so far, stable.
Echinofossulocactus coptonogonus is a small, globular cacti, very decorative due to its striking, thick sharp spines like quills, its gorgeous flowers and the deep grooves on its glaucous-green stem. Its not a big plant – it reaches a size of around 10 centimeters in height and 15 in width – and it’s generally solitary, however it sometimes might cluster and take on a cespitose habit. Its stem is furrowed in 10 to 15 ribs, rather deep (1.5 centimeters) and jagged, but not wavy like many stenocactus and Echifossulocactus may be. Areoles are located on the surface of the crests, at a distance of 2 centimeters from each other, are woolly in young plants and bare in older ones. We remind that areoles are the bud of cacti, which have the function to give birth to the spines. Spines are arranged in groups of 3 to 5, are really thick and slightly curved and they point in opposite directions. Their colour is red when young and turns grey when they grow older. In spring, at the top of the stem, a bunch of flowers sprout. They are not so big, just 3 centimeters long and 4 wide, and coloured in pink-magenta to white, usually with a pretty magenta central stripe in every petal. Petals are numerous, arranged in a few concentric layers, and the central part, which hosts bright yellow, crowded stamens – which are the male parts of the flowers – is striking as well as the petals; also because the yellow of the stamens often radiate to the base of the petals, creating a beautiful central bright tinge.
E. coptonogonus is not difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:
Place your E. coptonogonus in a bright spot, exposed to direct sunlight all year round with the exception of the hottest hours of summer days.
Alle Echinofossulocactus require high temperatures, but they do handle cold as well, if their substrate is maintained completely dry. The minimum temperature they manage ot tolerate is around 4 ° C, as long as the soil stays completely dry.
Water regularly during the growth season, that is to say once a week in summer, but always make sure that the substrate dries up completely before each irrigation. Reduce watering frequency in autumn to fully suspend it during the winter months, unless the plant won’t enter dormancy and will easily rot.
The soil must be well-drained: the ideal one is a mix of peat, sand and aggregates, because they ensure good drainage. Use a clay pot to enhance drainage.
Fertilize only once a year in spring and summer, using a specific fertilizer for cacti, diluting it at half the doses recommended in the product label with watering.
Choose pots slightly larger than the base of the stem and repot every year, paying attention not to damage the roots.
Propagation can be done by cuttings or by seed. Take off the cutting during the spring and then let it dry for a few days in order for a callus to be formed on the wound; after that, place the cutting in a mixture of sand, potting soil and pumice, and keep it at temperatures around 20ºC. Sometimes (it’s quite a rare phenomenon, though), the plant produces suckers at the base of the main stem. In that case, you’ll have just to take them off and replant them in a very light substrate, and they will easily put roots.
To increase the chances of success, make more cuttings at the same time.
Sowing is usually easily successfull: just sow the seed in a sandy soil and keep it really moist and at a temperature of 14ºC until germination occurs.
The name of this genus comes from the greek word “Echinos” (porcupine) and the Latin word fossula, which means like “small furrow”. Many of those cacti, in fact, have deep grooves in their stems, that might be also more or less wavy depending on the species.
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