Neobuxbaumia polylopha f. crested


Cephalocereus polylophus
Carnegiea polylopha
Carnegiea polylopha
Cereus polylophus
Pilocereus polylophus


N. polylopha is native to Mexico Gulf and Mexico Northeast where the plant grows in limestone canyon and can spread up to 1300 m of altitude.


N. polylopha is a rare cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit and can reach up to 15 m in height. The crested form is smaller and has a prostrate habit but it can reach up to 1 m in diameter with age. In the normal form the stem is columnar arranged in ribs with numerous spines and the leaves are absent. In the crested form, the stem grows in the shape of a fan or wave and usually branches off from the base, taking on highly sought-after sculptural forms. The crested form has many small white areoles scattered over the entire surface. The spines are yellowish-grey, small, bristle-like and tend to fall down with age. Each areola bear 1 central spine and 4-8 radial spines. In the crested form the stem is more deeply ribbed than the normal one and the strange shapes it assumes make the plant unique and therefore highly sought after.


This is a fast growing plant, easy to cultivate which can grow 15-20 cm a year. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 8°C 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. Remember to use a perforating pot to 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. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents; stop fertilizing throughout 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 forma crestata is a natural mutation that occurred in the N. polylopha population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively. The genus name was given in honour of Franz Buxbaum, a botanist: its prefix “Neo”, meaning “New”, has been given in order to distinguish the genus from “Buxbaumia”, which is instead a genus of mosses.

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