Habitat: Perù, Ecuador.
Cultivation: Exposure in full sun, well-draining substrate, watering regularly in Summer and rarely in Winter.
Curiosity: “Vatricania” is often traced back to another genus, Espostoa: however it is not really clear whether is a real genus or is just a synonym of Espostoa: it depends on the classification system used.
Vatricania is a genus belonging to the Cactaceae family. It is often traced back to another genus, Espostoa: however it is not really clear whether is a real genus or is just a synonym of Espostoa: it depends on the classification system used. Actually the name “Vatricania” is used to refer to a particular Espostoa species: E. guentheri, which is classified as Vatricania because it’s from Bolivia, unlike the other Espostoas which are native to Perú.
Espostoas are native to the mountain areas of Peru and Ecuador, while Vatricania and in particular V guentheri is from Bolivia, where it grows in mountain forests with a very marked dry season and extremely rocky soils. They are present between 800 and 1300 meters above sea level.
Vatricanias often assume a crest form: that is, they develop stems flattened longitudinally and grow in a horizontal direction, parallel to the ground, instead of being cylindrical as usual. This makes them very appreciated in the world of succulents and ornamental cacti cultivation.
Vatricanias are not very branched columnar cacti that reach a maximum height of 4 meters. These cacti have long silky hairs that cover the entire stem, blurring its bluish-green color with white. When they become adults, a cephalium grows on top of the branches. The cephalium is like an abnormal stem, usually covered with bristles, thorns or hair, which grows right on top of the cactus and resembles a strange colored head, clearly distinguishable from the rest of the plant. There can be more than one cephalium. When the plant blooms, the inflorescence usually develops right from the cephalium.
In Vatricania, in particular in V. guentheri, the cephalium is filamentous and reddish, and it sprout like a furball from a side of the trunk.
Vatricania’s flowers are white, nocturnal, pollinated by bats, hummingbirds and butterflies. They sprout from the hairy cephalium.
The fruits, like those of Espostoa, are hairy and contain small seeds, dispersed by ants.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Actually the name “Vatricania” is used to refer to a particular Espostoa species: E. guentheri, which is classified as Vatricania because it’s from Bolivia, unlike the other Espostoas which are native to Perú.
TIPS FOR GROWING
The cultivation of Vatricania is not so difficult. It is recommended to use very large pots to allow the plant to fully develop its root system, which goes deep into the ground. Here are our cultivation tips:
- The advised exposure is in full sun. There is no risk of sunburn due to the thick lint covering the plant.
- The temperature must remain above 8-10 °C.
- Watering should be well dosed during the summer (once or twice a week would be the ideal frequency, depending on the position of the plant) and suspended completely in winter.
- Regarding the substrate, we recommend the specific one for cacti. It must be abundant!
- Even if the plant has a very slow growth, it still needs a lot of soil. It is therefore recommended to repot every 2-3 years, following the natural growth of the plant.
Vatricanias can be propagated either by seed or by cutting. Single portions of the stem can be used as cuttings, which, if cut and buried, will give life to a new plant. It is advisable to give preference to the side branches to take cuttings so as not to spoil the overall appearance of the plant.