Matucana aureiflora is native to Peru, where it’s endemic to a very small area (20 km2!), between 2800 and 2900 meters above the sea level, that is still not subject to any protection. This species is listed in the appendix 2 of the CITES. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species. The Appendix II lists “all species which, although not necessarily now threatened with extinction, may become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation”. The major threat to this species is the loss of habitat due to the expansion of the closest city, Cajamarca. Also, the loss of habitat is due to the expansion of agricultural activities.
Matucana aureiflora is a small cacti, very sought after by succulent collectors for its extreme rarity and its beautiful, unusual golden flowers that open at night. It is a solitary cacti, formed by a single, rounded small stem that measures 11 centimeters in height and 15 centimeters in diameter and stays unbranched throughout the whole life of the plant. The surface of the stem is bright green and it’s furrowed by wavy, not too pronounced ribs, on the top of which lie the areoles, regularly lined up on the rib and spaced within a centimeter from each other. Areoles, for those who don’t know, are the typical buds of cacti: they are usually white and rounded, but may take on several shapes and consistences depending on the species. In the case of M. aureiflora, they are elongated, oblong like fissures, and white. Spines, instead, are brownish-orange and curved inward, pointing laterally in all directions (with a little immagination, the single groups of spines on the areoles remind some odd starfishes!). A peculiarity of this species is also its stem apex, which has a scale leaf very visible and grows along with each areole, when they are young. Flowers, instead, are bright yellow to golden, rather big if compared to the small size of the stem (3-4 centimeters in diameter). Their corolla is funnel-shaped and petals are arranged like scales on the corolla tube.
M. aureiflora is a slow-grower, however is not so difficult to grow. Here are our cultivation tips:
Place the plant in full sunlight, taking care to avoid direct light during the hottest hours of summer. Intense sunlight is actually important to obtain a more vivid colour of the spines.
Better not to keep this plant to temperatures below 7 ° C. They actually might survive a light frost if their substrate is kept completely dry, but we suggest that you don’t risk.
Water only during the vegetative period, waiting for the substrate to dry up completely before each irrigation. Suspend watering during the winter.
Grow your M. aureiflora in a well-drained soil but rich in nutrients.
Fertilize with a standard product for cacti, poor in Nitrogen but rich in Phosphorus and micronutrient, once during the vegetative period.
Due to the small size this plant never has a real need to be repotted, because it never outgrows the pot. However, we suggest to repot every year to provide some fresh soil and to make roots more healthy. There’s no need to use larger containers for repotting.
Propagation is usually carried out only by seed, which must be placed in a wet bed of fine earth and sand at a temperature of about 20 °. The seedlings will be ready to be repotted when they begin to emit thorns at the apex.
The genus Matucana takes its name from the city of Matucana, in Peru, which is their area of distribution, from which then spread throughout South America.
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