Echinopsis spachiana

Our thanks go to Krystyna Szulecka, who posted today’s lovely close-up image in our Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum this past weekend.

All but one species included in the succulent Cactaceae are endemic to the Americas. The single exception, Rhipsalis baccifera, is native to the New World, but is distributed throughout the tropical areas of Africa, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka as well. In spite of this geographical concentration, the family's fleshy shrubs, trees, and vines have been naturalized on all but one of the planet's continents (Antarctica). Cactaceae species exhibit a broad diversity of habits and sizes, with plants ranging from the coin-sized Blossfeldia through to Pereskia, a genus of leafy, barely succulent shrubs and forest trees that can extend upward of 24 metres. Generally, the Cactaceae species bear solitary, sessile flowers, many of which are exceedingly transient.

Echinopsis is a genus of around 128 species native to the gravelly, sandy soils and hillside slopes of South America. The genus has a number of common names (Easter lily cactus, golden torch, white torch cactus), but derives its scientific name from the Greek for the hedgehog and the sea-urchin, which species' spiny exteriors are thought to resemble. In cultivation, the genus's tough, robust plants thrive in loamy soil, particularly when exposed to a touch of leaf mould and a moderate amount of limestone. Full sun in the spring and overhead, evening-time watering in the summer is recommended by some authors. Individual species demand little maintenance, but gardeners are advised to ensure that the plants are not at any moment over-watered (particularly in winter), for an excess of water leads either to rotting in the roots or to a privation of the dormancy that promotes full flowering in the summer.

Echinopsis spachiana, a columnar species named for the 19th century Alsatian botanist Édouard Spach, generally reaches its apex between 1.5 and 2 metres. The species exhibits heavy basal branching and its exterior bears many yellow and brown protective spines that turn to white as they age. Once the plant has reached 1 metre in height, it is physiologically ready to put forth its beautiful, hairy-tubed flowers, which can sprawl to a diameter of 15cm. in their short (24 hour) lifespan. An outer ring of multiple and apparently independent stamens are united at their base to form a ring known as an annulus or hymen, which serves as a nectar guide for visiting moths.

Echinopsis spachiana

14 responses to “Echinopsis spachiana”

  1. Meg Bernstein

    What a stunning photograph. Beautiful!

  2. linda miller

    Just so beautiful…….thank you for sharing

  3. William Levitt

    Nice photo. How about information regarding lens and camera and shutter speed. We have an Argentine Giant Cactus that has blooms similar to your pic. Our blooms are about 8 inches in diameter. How big was this flower?

  4. Margaret

    AMAZING PHOTO! thanks for sharing… is it ok to use for personal card making (not to sell)?

  5. Sherrie

    OH MY!
    This is a big Wow!

  6. Annie Morgan

    Yes indeed, a stunning photo.

  7. Annie Morgan

    forgive my second post, but I looked up this plant, and there is a common name “Golden Torch Cereus” – plus one finds photos that show what the cactus really looks like. I think a link to some place on the net would be so helpful to give us a second look from a different aspect, particularly when the photo is a tight close-up.

  8. Earl Blackstock

    Goodness,gracious, sakes alive what a wonderful photo to start my day. This one is a keeper for sure.

  9. Debra Moran

    Incredible! Looks like some sort of sea urchin.

  10. elizabeth a airhart

    the photo is very close to looking like
    a botanical painting very very good
    links are presented on the page and
    reaserching on my own has brought me
    to all kinds of gardens web sites
    and wonderful orgs i belong ahs united states
    thank you all ubc thank you all

  11. Wally Lutz

    Looks like a wall hanger. Nice Shot!

  12. dustin haddock

    I wish I could Digg, or share on face book, this photo is awesome!

  13. Debra Moran

    I maintain my 88 yr. old friend’s garden in Crescent Beach, Surrey. Yesterday I was there watering her hanging baskets and geranium beds… I happened to look in the greenhouse and her cactus was blooming so I had a good look at it and it slowly dawned on me that it is the exact same bloom as here! What are the chances of that? I had viewed your photo in the morning before I went to work so I feel fortunate to catch this cactus in bloom and make the connection with your photo of the day. Beautiful!

  14. Aida

    This is a stunning photograph! Thanks for posting.

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