Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa


The accepted name of Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa is actually Eriosyce taltalensis var. floccosa. However, it is still found on the market labelled as “Neoporteria”. Here below are other synonyms for this species name:

Eriosyce taltalensis var. floccosa (F.Ritter) Katt.
Eriosyce paucicostata var. floccosa (F.Ritter) A.E.Hoffm.
Eriosyce taltalensis subs. echinus var. floccosa (F.Ritter) Katt.
Neochilenia floccosa (F.Ritter) Backeb.
Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa (F.Ritter) Ferryman
Neoporteria floccosa (F.Ritter) Lodé
Neoporteria paucicostata var. floccosa (F.Ritter) A.E.Hoffm.
Pyrrhocactus floccosus F.Ritter


Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa is native to Chile: in particular, it is from the region of Antofagosta, at an altitude of 300-600 meters above the sea level. Its habitat are almost inaccessible location in steep cliffs of the coast or nearby hills, the so-called “Lomas costeras”. The “Lomas costeras” are peculiar ecosistems endemic to Chile and Perù, characterized by the fact that they change their appearance considerably throughout the year: in winter, coastal fogs cause the loma to fill with vegetation, while in summer the dryness of the climate and high temperatures make the vegetation disappear almost completely, to the point that it becomes barely visible. Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa, however, is able to survive the arid Summers of this ecosystem, and can be found growing into rock crevices and on the slopes. It is a very tough species. 


Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa is a geophytic cacti, with a solitary (rarely branching) stem, globose or slightly elongated, that barely come off the ground. This habit is probably an evolutionary device of this species to survive the extreme growing condition typical of its native habitat. The fact that the stem is almost completely underground serves both to protect the plant from the extreme aridity of its native climate by limiting evapotranspiration from the stem, and to make it more stable despite the extremely steep slope of the cliffs in which it grows. In cultivation conditions, by the way, the stem comes normally out of the ground. It’s very small, with a maximum height of 15 centimeters and 6 to 15 in diameter. It has a dark green, almosto black colour that becomes tinged in red when the plant is exposed to intense sunlight. Like in all Neoporterias, the stem is furrowed by deep ribs that though also form some irregularly lumpy tubercles, adorned with bumps and chins that make the ribs hardly distinguishable. The areola, which are the typical buds of cacti and have the function to form the spines, are slightly sunken on the stems and covered in a soft, whitish wool that is also present at the top of the stem. Spines are yellowish-brown, slightly curved and sharp, long enough to cover the stem in an intricate net, and variable according to different plants. For each areole, they are divided into radial, pointing in all direction, and central ones, pointing outwards, though this distinction is not so evident as it is in other cacti. From late Spring to Autumn, Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa goes through several bloomings: for each blooming, a few funnel or bell-shaped, gorgeous flowers sprout at the top of the stem. They are pinkish-purple and have a lot of lanceolate petals. After withering, they form elongated, hairy fruits.


Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa is tough and easy to grow, though very slow-growing. Its cultivation needs are the same as the one of N. paucicostata and paucicostata var. viridis, being all part of the same group “Eriosyce taltalensis”.
Here below are our advices:

Neoporterias usually shouldn’t be placed under direct sunlight. Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa, instead, needs direct, strong sunlight to thrive and to develop healthy spines. It can also tolerate light shade, but we suggest to place it in the brightest spot available.
In theory, Neoporterias can stand temperatures down to a few degrees below 0, if its substrate stays completely dry. In particular, Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa can survive at until -5ºC, if it substrate stays completely dry. To stay safe, however, we advise to keep it at temperatures above 5ºC. In winter, shelter it appropriately or put it indoors, maintaining its substrate completely dry.
It’s very important to provide your Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa with a good ventilation, especially in winter, as it doesn’t like stagnant air.
Water abundantly but unfrequently in Spring and Summer (around once a week), always making sure that the soil dries up completely before watering again. Suspend any irrigation in winter and whenever the temperature falls below 10ºC, otherwise its roots might rot.
Choose a well-draining substrate, with an abundant mineral part (70-80%). A good option could be to use a standard substrate for cacti and adding some roguh material like sand or grit immediately close to its root neck, to prevent rotting.
Fertilize once a year during the growth season (Spring-Summer) with a product poor in Nitrogen and rich in Phosphorus and Potassium.
Being small cacti, they rarely need to be repotted. and are usually fine in the same pot for several years. 


Propagation of Neoporterias is usually carried out through sowing. Often, plantlets are also grafted onto more resistant cacti, because non-grafted plant are extremely prone to root rot. Seed should be sown in Spring in a light, areated compost at temperatures of 22-24ºC. While sowing, press lightly the seeds on the substrate without burying them; then cover them with a plastic, transparent sheet to obtain a greenhouse-like effect that serves to maintain the seeds moist and warm until they germinate. Put them in a shaded spot. When the germination starts, gradually remove the plastic sheet while the plantlets develop, always avoiding to expose them to direct light until they are fully developed. Seeds usually take around 10 days to germinate, but they may take longer with lower temperatures. Until the germination occurs, it’s important to maintain the pot always moist, though without exagerating by saturating it too much. Cuttings aren’t usually an option, as this species doesn’t produce suckers.


The name “Neoporteria” comes from Carlos E. Porter, a Chilean entomologist. It is not considered an indipendent genus: it was first considered to be part of Echinocactus, and is now included in Eriosyce. Neoporteria echinus var. floccosa is one of the numerous forms of the species Eriosyce taltalensis, along with N. paucicostata, N. paucicostata var. viridis, Eriosyce taltalensis subsp. taltalensis, and Eriosyce taltalensis subsp. pilispina. The name “floccosa” is probably due to the dense, whitish wool that covers the areoles and the top of the stem of this species.

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