Neoporteria paucicostata


The accepted name of Neoporteria paucicostata is actually Eriosyce taltalensis subs. paucicostata. Here below are other synonyms of this name:

Eriosyce taltalensis subs. paucicostata
Eriosyce paucicostata
Horridocactus paucicostatus
Neochilenia paucicostata
Neoporteria paucicostata
Pyrrhocactus paucicostatus


Neoporteria paucicostata is endemic to Chile, in particular to an area between Antofagosta and Caldara, with an extent of occurrance of about 11000 square kilometers. Its habitat consists in coastal hills, where this cacti can be found growing on rocky soils, 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. Its native climate is extremely arid and the plant is able to obtain water only through condensation of water from the air humidity of coastal fogs. The altitude range of occurance goes from 50 to 1000 meters above the sea level. Though it’s an endemism, its population are stable and formed by numerous individuals, and also the genetic variability into the species makes it more resistant to any modification of the habitat or climate.


Neoporteria paucicostata is a very variable species in size and arrangement/number of spines, so that its classification has gone through several changes. To date, its accepted scientifical name would be actually Eriosyce taltalensis subs. paucicostata, though it is often found labeled as “Neoporteria paucicostata” on the market. It is a small cacti with a solitary stem, 15 to 30 centimeters high and 6-8 centimeters wide, usually erect but that might become prostrate with age, bluish-grey and with some white wool on at its top. The stem is furrowed by 8-12 deeply pronounced ribs, at the top of which the areoles are lined up. We remind, for beginners, that the areoles are the typical buds of the family Cactaceae, from which the spines are formed. In Neoporteria paucicostata, the areoles are white, glabrous, and located at the top of slightly pronounced bumps on the ribs. For each areole, 9 spines grow: a central one and 8 radial. The central one points outwards and the radial ones point in all directions. The number of spines, though, increases with age, and mature plants may have up to 20 spines per areola. In addition, the number of spines per areola may vary from plant to plant. Spines come off black and later turn silvery grey, slightly hooked and thick: pay attention while handling the plant. Younger, black spines are in the apical part of the stem creating a beautiful chromatic contrast with the underlying silvery spines and stem. At the top of the stem, there might be a white wool. Also, the flowers sprout from the apical part of the stem: they are pale pink to creamy yellow or whitish and bell or funnel-shaped. They might look different between individuals, either in colour and in shape. Their petals are crowded and arranged in many layers, and the more intensely coloured ones are usually the external ones. After withering, flowers turn into reddish, elongated fruits, that open through a basal hole when ripen.


Neoporteria paucicostata is very tough and easy to grow, however very slow-growing.
Here below are our tips of cultivation:

Neoporterias usually shouldn’t be placed under direct sunlight. Neoporteria paucicostata, instead, needs direct, strong sunlight to thrive and to develop healthy spines. It can also tolerate light shed, 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, N. paucicostata 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 N. paucicostata 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 paucicostata is one of the numerous forms of the species Eriosyce taltalensis, along with N. paucicostata var. viridis, Neoporteria echinus and N. echinus var. floccosa, Eriosyce taltalensis subsp. taltalensis, and Eriosyce taltalensis subsp. pilispina.

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