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Image of Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno). Click to enlarge parts of image.

Image of Austrocactus philippii

VII Region, Pelarco, Libueno, Chile
Altitude: 300 m. 12 24, 2006

 

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Species:  Austrocactus philippii (Regel & C.E. Schmidt) Buxbaum
Family:  Cactaceae Identification OK   
Order:  Caryophyllales
Chilean Name:  Hiberno
English Name: 
German Name: 
Russian Name: 
Record:  0673
About 3 Austrocactus in Chile and 2 in our data base.
About 164 Cactaceae in Chile and 63 in our data base.

 

1st Region:
Lat: 18° - 21°
Main Cities: Arica, Iquique.
2d Region:
Lat: 21° - 26°
Main Cities: Antofagasta, Calama.
3d Region:
Lat: 26° - 29°
Main Cities: Copiapó, Vallenar.
4th Region:
Lat: 29° - 32°
Main Cities: La Serena, Ovalle.
5th Region:
Lat: 32° - 33°
Main Cities: Valparaiso, Los Andes.
Metropolitan Region:
Lat: 33°- 34°
Main Cities: Santiago.
6th Region:
Lat: 34° - 35°
Main Cities: Rancagua.
7th Region:
Lat: 35° - 36°
Main Cities: Talca, Curicó.
8th Region:
Lat: 36° - 38°
Main Cities: Concepción, Chillan, Los Angeles.
9th Region:
Lat: 38° - 39°
Main Cities: Temuco, Villarrica, Pucón.
10th Region:
Lat: 39° - 44°
Main Cities: Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Montt.
11th Region:
Lat: 44° - 49°
Main Cities: Coihaique.
12th Region:
Lat 49°- 55°
Main Cities: Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Puerto Williams.
USDA Hardiness Zone 7, even 6b. The plant tolerates low temperatures (-15° C even  -20° C), it can be covered by snow for months (1 - 8 months).     Fully exposed to the sun. Level areas or slopes facing north.     Somewhat dry areas where the drought may last 3 - 5 months. Precipitations of 400 - 800 mm. are concentrated in winter.   
High altitude close to the timber line
Yellow, 7 - 14 petals      Shrub     

Endemic    Very Rare

Height: 15 cm.

Good ornamental value (A)

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INTRODUCTION

This is one of the most rare and amazing plants in Chile. Only two locations are known where it can be found, and the last location was discovered just recently by the University of Talca. It seems that the first location was plundered, because there were no reports of seeing it there lately. So the newly discovered location may be the only one where it is known to be. On the other hand, this cactus is so well camouflaged that it is very difficult to spot; so, unless you sit on top of it, you may never discover that it is there. Finding new locations are therefore extremely difficult. Only when it is blooming there is a real chance of finding it. This cactus, apart from being one of the rarest, is also one which is most cold-resistant.

Image of Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno). Click to enlarge parts of image.

Image of Austrocactus philippii

VII Region, Pelarco, Libueno, Chile
Altitude: 300 m. 12 25, 2006

 

DESCRIPTION

Plant type: Shrub

Flower: Yellow, 7 - 14 petals

Height: 15 cm.

 

It forms groups of about 6 - 12 plants; it has a columnar body, with somewhat soft, green tissue, generally short, erect stems about 5 - 20 cm. long and about 3 - 4 cm. in diameter, some stems may also be prostrate. It has 7 or 8 prominent ribs, 6-8 marginal thorns, and 3 - 4 central thorns of up to 3 cm. long. The flowers are about 5 cm. long, yellow-orange-brown, and the blooming season is from the end of December through January.

Image of Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno). Click to enlarge parts of image.

Image of Austrocactus philippii

VII Region, El Melado, Chile
Altitude: 2200 m. 01 07, 2007

 

HABITAT

In Chile this species grows in the following environmental conditions:

 

Habitat according to altitude:

High altitude close to the timber line

 

Watering conditions:

Somewhat dry areas where the drought may last 3 - 5 months. Precipitations of 400 - 800 mm. are concentrated in winter.

 

Light conditions:

Fully exposed to the sun. Level areas or slopes facing north.

 

It lives just in one specific location in the 7th Region, at an altitude of 2000 m. (location 1) and 2200 m (location 2). It seems to prefer flat, but rocky areas, exposed to sun. The soil where the roots are growing has a considerable organic matter concentration, despite the fact that the superficial soil around is rather barren. It forms a community with Mulinum spinosum, Ephedra chilensis and Berberis empetrifolia. Despite the fact that it grows in a very open location, its light requirements are probably average, because in summer due to thunderstorms it would get direct sunlight only in the mornings (for about 5 - 6 hours); in the afternoon it is protected by clouds. The temperature regime in summer is: max. 20º C (at noon), min. 0º C (at dawn), with occasional freezing temperatures possible. In winter, the temperature would oscillate around -5º under snow cover, with a range of -15º - 0º.

Image of Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno). Click to enlarge parts of image.

Image of Austrocactus philippii

VII Region, El Melado, Chile
Altitude: 2000-2200 m. 12 17, 2006

 

USES

Good ornamental value (A)

 

 

 

 

As of now, it does not have any known uses, but it certainly can be ornamental. As such, it has a very strong potential, because it can be easily grown outdoors in rather cold climates, like Central Europe - its ability to withstand snow for 3 to 4 months and freezing temperatures of up to - 15º C makes it unique among the cacti.

Image of Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno). Click to enlarge parts of image.

Image of Austrocactus philippii

VII Region, El Melado, Chile
Altitude: 2000-2200 m. 12 17, 2006

 

GROWING TIPS

 

This species has the following hardiness:

USDA Hardiness Zone 7, even 6b. The plant tolerates low temperatures (-15° C even -20° C), it can be covered by snow for months (1 - 8 months).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No information is available so far; however, it seems that exposing it to high temperatures will definitivly kill it, so for warm and hot climates with over 25º C a plausible alternative would be to provide forced cooling during the hot period. Another alternative for the countries with hot summer season would be to hibernate it in refrigerator (this should be almost certainly Ok, because in nature it is covered by snow for about 4 months with no light at all) during the summer time and use the spring/winter/autumn for vegetative growth.

If you are interested in purchasing seeds of this or similar species, please go to our On-line Seeds Shop.

 

More photos (20) of Austrocactus philippii (Regel & C.E. Schmidt) Buxbaum available here

More species from the same Cactaceae family in our data base:

Austrocactus philippii (Hiberno)

Austrocactus spiniflorus (Espinifloro)

Browningia candelaris (Candelabro / Cardón / Browningia)

Cactaceae sp. #1788 (cactus, artificila)

Copiapoa calderana ssp. calderana

Copiapoa cinerascens

Copiapoa cinerea ssp. columna-alba

Copiapoa cinerea ssp. haseltoniana

Copiapoa coquimbana

Copiapoa dealbata

Copiapoa echinoides

Copiapoa fiedleriana

Copiapoa grandifolora ssp. grandiflora

Copiapoa humilis ssp. humilis

Copiapoa humilis

Copiapoa krainziana

Copiapoa longistaminea

Copiapoa marginata

Copiapoa serpentisculata (Cactus de la serpiente)

Corryocactus brevistylus (Guacalla)

Cumulopuntia boliviana subsp. ignescens

Cumulopuntia boliviana ssp. ignescens

Cumulopuntia sphaerica (Gatito / Puskaye / Perrito)

Cylindropuntia tunicata

Echinopsis atacamensis ssp. atacamensis

Echinopsis chiloensis ssp. littoralis (Quisco costero)

Echinopsis chiloensis (Quisco)

Echinopsis deserticola

Eriosyce aurata

Eriosyce curvispina

Eriosyce curvispina ssp. curvispina

Eriosyce curvispina ssp. curvispina

Eriosyce eriosyzoides

Eriosyce heinrichiana

Eriosyce odieri

Eriosyce odieri ssp. malleolata

Eriosyce paucicostata ssp. echinus

Eriosyce paucicostata

Eriosyce rodentiophila (Sandillon de los ratones)

Eriosyce senilis (Viejito)

Eriosyce sp. #1783

Eriosyce sp.

Eriosyce subgibbosa

Eriosyce subgibbosa ssp. subgibbosa

Eriosyce taltalensis (Quisquito de Taltal)

Eriosyce taltalensis ssp. pygmaea

Eulychnia acida (Copao)

Eulychnia castanea (Copado de Philippi)

Eulychnia iquiquensis (Copao)

Haageocereus fascicularis

Maihuenia poeppigii (Maihuén)

Maihueniopsis archiconoidea

Maihueniopsis atacamensis

Maihueniopsis colorea

Maihueniopsis domeykoensis

Maihueniopsis glomerata

Maihueniopsis grandiflora

Miqueliopuntia miquelii (Tunilla / Tuna de Miguel)

Neowerdermannia chilensis

Opuntia ficus-indica (Tuna)

Oreocereus hempellianus (achacañao/arequipa)

Oreocereus leucotrichus (viejito/chastudo)

Tunilla chilensis

 

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