Description and General Information:
This cactus is native to southern-central Chile and western Neuquen province of Argentina, growing primarily in volcanic soils at an elevation of 500-2200m. Its habitat includes dry steppe, open Araucaria forest and cold, windy, subalpine stony slopes and plateaus. In the wild, it is often covered in snow for several months.
Plants form dense, branched cushions, up to 1-2 meters in diameter. The 10-20 cm long stems are cylindrical with short, fleshy, cylindrical leaves and white spines. The flowers are nearly stemless, nestled among the fleshy leaves and spines. The 5-6 cm diameter flowers are silky-textured and pale lemony yellow, blooming in November and December. The club-shaped fruit are edible.
This is among one of the hardier cactus species and perhaps among the most hardy originating from South America. It should be positioned in full sun and have excellent drainage, especially in winter. However, it is more tolerant of moisture than many cacti species. Because it is essentially an alpine cactus, it is not fond of hot humid summers. It is not particular about the soil pH. It is hardy to zone 6 and known to survive outside as far north as Nova Scotia.
April in the south to June in the north
Larger plants may be dug and divided after blooming. Individual stems may be treated as cuttings. It may also be grown from seed.