Habitat: Peruvian Andes
Cultivation: Cultivation follows the rules common to other cacti: a very draining soil rich in inerts, direct light, little water. The temperature must always remain above 8-10°C.
Curiosity: This cactus takes its name from the German botanist August Weberbauer (1871 – 1948), who studied it in depth. The suffix “cereus”, that means candelabra or flashlight, instead indicates its columnar, cadelabra like shape.
The genus Weberbauerocereus includes about a dozen species of columnar cacti, which branch at the top taking the typical “tree” shape also common to other cereus.
Weberbauerocereus is native to the Andes, where it is widespread at severe altitudes, until 2300 meters! Long, arid periods and strong winds are the norm in this tough environments, where these cacti grow isolated or in groups, depending on the species, on rocky soils in sunny spots.
The stem is bright green or blue-green. In cultivation, they can reach up to two meters in height. In nature, instead, they are much taller.
The stem is divided into numerous (up to 22!) vertical, not very pronounced ribs.
The thorns are thick, more or less robust according to the species, generally bright yellow or very light. A curious feature of this cacti is that the spines growing from the same areola have different lengths, creating an irregular pattern along the stem.
The thorns develop on prominent, button-shaped areoles, which are usually yellowish brownish and look like bumps. The areoles are the typical buds of the family Cactaceae, from which the spines are formed.
The flowers are tubular, with a scaly, hairy calyx. They can be white or reddish and grow near the top of the stem. They can reach 10 centimeters in length and 2-4 centimeters in width.
It must be specified that they are rather rare cacti in nature and not easy to find even in commerce.
Fruits are yellowish-orange, maximum 4 centimeters long, with woolly hairs and edible, filled in small black seeds. The fruits of some species are eatten by the women of the local population when still green to reduce the symptoms of the menopause. The wood can be used to kindle fires.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are the currently accepted species of Weberbauerocereus:
- W. albus
- W. churinensis
- W. cuzcoensis
- W. fascicularis
- W. johnsonii
- W. rauhii
- W. torataensis
- W. weberbaueri
- W. winterianus
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TIPS FOR GROWING
Here are our cultivation tips:
- A half-sun exposure is recommended when the plants are very young; after that, it will be necessary to switch to full sun.
- Keep the temperature above 8-10°C.
- Watering should follow the general indications valid for all cacti: water once every 5-6 days in spring and summer (making sure the soil dries up completely between one watering and the next), gradually decrease the irrigation frequency in autumn and suspend it completely in the coldest months.
- We suggest a specific soil for cacti, well-draining and rich in inerts.
- It is a slow-growing plant and doesn’t need much fertilization; during the vegetative period use a specific product for cacti to be administered once a month.
- Choose deep and wide pots to support the growth of the plant. Since this is a rather slow-growing cactus, however, there will be no need to repot every year.
Weberbauerocereus is mainly propagated through seed. Branch cuttings can also be used. Regarding the cuttings, it will be sufficient to cut off the top of the side branches and bury it in sandy soil after having allowed the wound to dry.
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