Thursday, October 4, 2007

Old Man Andes

Oreocereus celsianus

Old Man Andes is the common name for the Oreocereus celsianus, as a nod to the long white hair found on the cactus. (It does look a bit like old man ear hair!) The hair is there to protect the skin from the sun, and it can get quite profuse. In other areas of the country, O. celsianus needs full sun. In Phoenix, it requires some protection from our intense radiation, so I’ve placed this cactus under the dappled shade of a Palo Verde tree, so its hair is less sparse than it would be had it been placed in full sun.

As the name implies, its origin is the Andes Mountains of South America. Of the 10 species of Oreocereus identified so far, all have the protective hair to varying degrees. Besides sun protection, the hair also provides protection from temperature fluctuations, but it needs supplemental protection at temperatures below 50ยบ.

The O. celsianus is popular as a houseplant and will do well if it receives plenty of intense light on all its surfaces. As a windowsill plant, regular turning is necessary for proper growth. In the winter, it can easily rot from over watering, so it’s best to withhold water during those months than take a chance with rot. Going without water for a few months in winter will not hurt it.


verobirdie said...

Your pictures and information are always great, I enjoy them a lot and discover a completely unknow world. Thank you

Julie said...

Love this one too! You are just a fortunate and wonderfully happy girl living out there in "Arizonia"!!! (Said with a slang)...LOL