Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is native to western Argentina, where it can be found in the Andes, as it thrives in extreme weather conditions.


Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is a segmented cactus known for its gradual growth, reaching heights of up to 30 cm. The plant consists of small pine-cone-shaped segments that are loosely attached to each other, allowing them to detach easily. The reason of this easy detaching of the segments is actually that an evolutionary device of propagation: as the segments fall, they are able to put roots and propagate the plant asexually. These segments contribute also to the distinctive appearance of the plant. Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis hasn’t got proper spines like other cacti, but instead is equipped with white areoles that bear short white hair, so that the stem results in being covered in these nice white spots. By the way, you’ll have to pay attention while handling this cacti, as the little white hair are actually glochids, and are quite a hassle. Sometimes, at the top of the stems or in the joints between different segments, white spines grow, 3-4 centimeters long, creating a funny contrast in the plant appearance. The spots, instead, are at the tip of nipple-shaped, not particularly pronunced tubercles that furrow the stem, creating a scaled-like surface which is very decorative. The colour of the stems range from a bright green, with some red tinges that are enhanced by direct sunlight, to a glaucous-grey, almost blue. The flowers of Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis are charmingly white, measuring approximately 5 cm in length. Complementing the earth-tone colors of the plant, these white flowers create a visually pleasing contrast. Additionally, the plant produces brown fruits, adding further interest to its botanical features. Overall, Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis presents a unique and aesthetically appealing combination of segmented structure, delicate white flowers, and distinctive brown fruits in its botanical composition.


Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is known for its ease of cultivation, although it typically doesn’t attain significant height due to the tendency of its segments to easily detach. Despite this, it displays resilience to colder temperatures, exhibiting hardiness down to -9°C. To thrive, this cactus requires full sun exposure, as insufficient illumination can lead to thinner stems due to a lack of sunlight. Ensuring proper drainage is essential for its well-being. For Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis, utilize a basic cactus compost as the growing medium, enhancing its fertility by incorporating a small amount of peat. Fertilize the plant once a year, specifically in early spring, to provide essential nutrients for optimal growth. Water once a week during spring and summer or anytime you feel with the fingertip that the soil is completely dry, while watering more rarely during the winter, as cold and soil humidity can cause root and stem rot. When repotting, a recommended interval is every 2-3 years, and it is advisable to opt for clay pots to promote effective transpiration. This choice facilitates aeration and drainage, contributing to the overall well-being of Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis. The primary growing period for Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis occurs during spring, but it may also produce new segments in the autumn. This combination of characteristics makes Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis a manageable and adaptable plant for cultivation, offering unique features despite its tendency to remain compact.


Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis can be propagated through segment cuttings or, on occasion, by utilizing seeds. The plant exhibits a prolific ability to produce suckers, making it exceptionally straightforward to cultivate. Propagation from cuttings is a simple process—by gently removing one of the distinctive ‘cones’ and placing it in the soil, the plant readily takes root and establishes itself. This inherent ease of propagation contributes to the accessibility and appeal of Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis for both novice and experienced growers alike.


The origin of the name “Tephrocactus” is rooted in the Greek word “tephra,” signifying ash. This nomenclature is aptly chosen to denote the greyish hue observed in the stems of numerous species within the genus. The use of the Greek term adds a linguistic dimension, connecting the plant’s physical attributes to a descriptive element that echoes its natural characteristics. The species name “articulatus” is instead referred to the segmented structure of the plant. In the end, the name “strobiliformis” defines a variety of the species articulatus in which the segment are pine-cone shaped.

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