Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus f. crestata


Cereus articulates
Cereus polymorphus
Cereus syringscanthus
Opuntia andicola
Opuntia articulata var. oligacanthus f. cristata
Tephrocactus diadematus


Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus, including its crested form, is native to Argentina. It typically grows in arid, rocky environments, often at higher elevations. These habitats are characterized by well-drained soils and infrequent rainfall, conditions that have shaped the plant’s unique adaptations for water conservation and storage.


Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus f. crestata is a distinctive and rare form within the Tephrocactus species, part of the Cactaceae family. The crested form is particularly sought after for its unusual growth form. Unlike the typical segmented, globular growth of Tephrocactus articulatus, the crested form develops a wavy, fan-like structure. This cresting occurs due to a mutation in the apical meristem (growth point), causing the plant to grow laterally in a unique and unpredictable pattern. The individual segments of this cactus are typically cylindrical or spherical, with the crested form distorting these into irregular, wave-like shapes. The segments are covered with areoles, from which sparse spines emerge. The spines are usually long, and their number can vary, which is a characteristic of the ‘oligacanthus’ variety, meaning ‘few spines’. The plant’s color is typically a blue-green or gray-green, providing a striking contrast to its sparse spines and the often more vivid hues of other cacti. The crested form enhances this contrast, making it a visually striking addition to any collection.


Cultivating Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus f. crestata requires an understanding of its specific needs, especially given its crested form. This cactus prefers bright, indirect light. While it can tolerate some direct sunlight, excessive exposure can cause sunburn, especially in hotter climates. The soil should be very well-draining, ideally a mix formulated for cacti and succulents. Overwatering is a common issue and can lead to rot, particularly in the crested areas. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. During the winter, when the plant is dormant, reduce watering significantly. This cactus is not frost-tolerant and should be protected from freezing temperatures. In colder regions, it should be grown in containers that can be moved indoors to a frost-free environment during winter. Fertilization is not essential but can be beneficial during the growing season. A diluted, balanced cactus fertilizer applied once in the spring and once in the summer can support its growth.


Propagation of Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus f. crestata is typically achieved through the division of crested segments. Carefully detach a segment and allow it to dry for a few days to form a callus. Plant the calloused end in a well-draining soil mix, water sparingly, and provide bright, indirect light. Rooting can take several weeks to a few months.


The crested form of Tephrocactus articulatus var. oligacanthus is a result of a rare mutation, making each specimen unique. This form, with its intricate and unpredictable growth patterns, is highly prized among cactus collectors and enthusiasts. It stands out as a natural sculpture, showcasing the diverse and fascinating world of cacti.

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