Trichocereus tarmaensis is a close relative of Trichocereus cuzcoensis that was described as a separate species. There are various differences between Trichocereus cuzcoensis and Trichocereus tarmaensis, and some forms of Trichocereus knuthianus are considered to be synonymous with Trichocereus tarmaensis as well.
Trichocereus tarmaensisreaches a size of 2 meters and is pupping from the base. It has 7-9 ribs that are approximately 2 centimeters wide, rounded at the top and with very distinct V-notches above the areoles. The areoles are approx. 2-2,5 centimeters apart with a diameter of 9 millimeters. Young growth areoles have a very fine brown wool that changes it´s color to a darker brown. It has 3-6 radial spines that are between 1 and 3 cm long. It often has one very large downward pointing spine that is up to 10 centimeters long. The plant usually has one of those middle spines. Old spine growth changes its color very soon to a gray, similar to what we know from Trichocereus cuzcoensis.
Flower of E.tarmaensis:
White, very similar or identical to some of the spiny forms of Trichocereus cuzcoensis or Trichocereus peruvianus. The tube has brown hairs and the fruit reaches a maximum diameter of 5 centimeters.
Central peru, Tarma in Peru at around 3000 meters.
Trichocereus tarmaensis looks very similar to Trichocereus tulhyacensis and both species are hard to distinguish if do not have the luck to observe them during the flowering phase . The flower of Trichocereus tulhuyacensis is pink, which is something that does not apply to any other Trichocereus species from this complex. If your Trichocereus has a reddish to pink flower, it´s not Trichocereus tarmaensis but Trichocereus tulhuyacensis or another close relative. Both Trichocereus tarmaensis and Trichocereus tulhuayacensis are very rare and mislabeled anyways. Karel Knize is selling seed of this type under the name KK2148 Trichocereus tarmaensis .
This picture shows a seedgrown specimen that was sold through the SAB shop in Australia.
When looking at this pic, it gets obvious that this type is VERY similar to some types of Trichocereus cuzcoensis, and even has similarities to a KK242. I do not think that specimens of KK2148 could be recognized as such without knowing the label. They are simply synonymous with some types of Trichocereus cuzcoensis. This species grows at around 3000 meters altitude.
Photo: S. Preiss
Below: Some photos from Tarma. The first one does not show a Trichocereus, but the others show some of the wild forms in between Trichocereus tarmaensis and Trichocereus knuthianus.
Trichocereus knuthianus is a plant that can be found in many parts of Peru. As a species, it is much more diverse than the clone that it is mostly reduced to and there are various forms that belong into the context of Trichocereus knuthianus. In addition, there are intermediates with Trichocereus schoenii, Trichocereus tarmaensis and Trichocereus cuzcoensis.
Alternative name: Echinopsis knuthiana
Synonyms: Trichocereus knuthiana, Trichocereus knuthianus, Trichocereus cuzcoensis var. knuthianus, Cereus knuthianus, Azureocereus deflexispinus, Cereus deflexispinus, Trichocereus tarmaensis, Trichocereus peruvianus var. Tarma, Trichocereus crassiarboreus, Trichocereus schoenii, Echinopsis schoenii, Echinopsi tarmaensis (not all, but some of them clearly belong into the knuthianus context as well)
Though Trichocereus knuthianus is still considered a correct species with the name Echinopsis knuthiana, it is closely related to Trichocereus cuzcoensis and Trichocereus peruvianus. There was never any good DNA testing done to verify or question this, which is why it is on our short list of species that we´ll test for our upcoming book on the genus Trichocereus. In my opinion, it is a relative of Trichocereus cuzcoensis. We will find out how related exactly once we´ve ran some tests.
Trichocereus knuthianus was discovered and described by Curt Backeberg on the upper course of the Rio Marañon. The plant was named after Graf F.M.Knuth, who was Curt Backeberg´s co-author in the book KAKTUS ABC and a financier for some of his trips.
Most plants that are available on the open market were originally sourced from Friedrich Ritters Seed list. Ritter´s collection number of Trichocereus knuthianus was FR567, sometimes also labeled as Trichocereus knuthianus f. pachanoi or Trichocereus knuthianus FR 677! This strain can be found in collections throughout the World though it is most common in Australia.
Ritter wrote that it´s probably synonymous with Trichocereus tarmaensis and I agree to a certain degree. In addition, he shared the opinion that Trichocereus knuthianus is actually a variety of Trichocereus cuzcoensis, which is most likely correct as well. Trichocereus cuzcoensis only grows in Cusco, but its close relatives grow all over Peru, e.g. Trichocereus tarmaensis, Trichocereus schoenii, etc.
Curt Backeberg, on the other hand did absolutely not agree with Ritter´s attempt to nullify Backeberg´s species, as it would mean that his newly described “species” would´ve become invalid. Generally speaking, Friedrich Ritter knew that plant very well .
Mature plants of Echinopsis knuthiana in habitat tend to have that tree-like rounded log-shape that you can observe on Trichocereus cuzcoensis too. Most other Trichocereus species do not form such a rounded and tree-like stump, which is another indicator for its genetic proximity to the Cuzcoensis complex.
Trichocereus knuthianus is very widespread and grows in Central Peru and some Departments that surround it.
Title photo: Sams Plants
Above: Fields Knuthianus aka Fields Knuth
This Picture shows FR 677. Unfortunately not a very good pic:
This population from the Bolivian island ‘Isla Del Sol’ belongs into the distant complex of Trichocereus bridgesii / Echinopsis lageniformis. However, it is currently discussed whether or not this plant is actually a different species and DNA testing is required to look into its status. Sacred Succulents visited this population during their Field Trips and made some amazing photos. I also have some sick photos of it in my first book.
BK08601.1 Trichocereus Isla del Sol, Bolivia
Now, this is one of the most interesting Trichocereus species that were visited during the Sacred Succulents Field Trips! All the photos shown here are from Ben Kamm & Sacredsucculents.com! This was from the 2008 Field Trip and it is very similar to an intermediate between Trichocereus bridgesii and something from the Trichocereus cuzcoensis complex. Trichocereus cuzcoensis is mostly known for the plants in Cusco that were used to write the original description, but there are similar plants and relatives of Trichocereus cuzcoensis that can be found in other Peruvian states.
It also reminds me a little bit of Trichocereus knuthianus, which also belongs to the Cuzcoensis complex and has similar, massive areoles. Those plants are definitely very old…how they evolved exactly is not known.
Sacred Succulents gave away seed of this amazing species in 2008, but I do not know of anyone who raised some of them so far. If you happen to own this type, please let me know because it´s on my most-wanted list and I urgently need more pics of seed grown plants. The Isla Del Sol is an area that can be found in the southern part of the Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. It´s a wonderful area that is filled with ancient ruins and that screams “History”. I do not know if those plants were intentionally planted there or if they just evolved, but it´s definitely one of the coolest Trichocereus species out there.
Trichocereus peruvianus or Echinopsis peruvianais a columnar cactus that can get up to 4 meters long and reaches 20 centimeters in diameter. It´s also called the PERUVIAN TORCH cactus and is native in Peru. Britton and Rose – The Cact. II, S.136 /192
Photos of Trichocereus peruvianus
Trichocereus peruvianus / macrogonus from Matucana Red Spines
Most regional forms belonging to this species have a frosted blue color and grow between 6-9 ribs. Its flowers are white, though there are some close relatives that have a different flower color (Trichocereus tulhuayacensis). It usually grows upright, but sometimes grows prostrate hanging down from cliffs and rocks. The size and color of the spines varies greatly, but most of them have about 6-8 honey-colored to brown spines that can reach about 4 centimeters in length. The areoles are brown to beige-felted and up to 2,5 centimeters distanced from each other. The Spines do NOT have a knobbed Base. The spine color is one of the key traits if you attempt to tell it apart from Trichocereus macrogonus. We write more on Trichocereus macrogonus in that particular chapter.
A Peru at the type locality in Matucana.
Echinopsis peruviana flowers very easily as soon as it reaches a certain size and the plant is very easy to cultivate. Some of them have a distinct V-Notch above the areoles, but not all and it´s not a trait that is reliable for identification.
Cultivation of Trichocereus peruvianus / Echinopsis peruviana:
Trichocereus peruvianus can be grown from seed 0r propagated by cuttings. Seeds need to be sprinkled on top of the soil because they require sunlight to germinate. The seeds are tiny and only a few mm large and have a long viability. Usually, the seeds can stay viable for up to 10 years or above, though that depends on many factors. The Seed needs to be stored in a dry and cold environment to guarantee maximum viability.
Los Gentiles (Noah Reams)
The cactus can also be propagated through cuttings and it´s very easy to root. But make sure that the cuttings are not smaller than 20 centimeters because that stunts the growth tremendously.
The flower of Trichocereus peruvianus / Echinopsis peruviana:
The flower is white and reaches as size of up to 25 centimeters. Trichocereus peruvianus is a night flowering species.
Type locality of Trichocereus peruvianus / Echinopsis peruviana:
Peru (around Matucana). Trichocereus peruvianus is the dominant Trichocereus species in Matucana.
Plants that are closely related or are synonymous with Trichocereus peruvianus:
Trichocereus tacnaensis, Trichocereus puquiensis, Trichocereus santaensis (some of the plants around the Santa Valley belong to Tr. pachanoi though), Trichocereus tarmaensis (closely related to Trichocereus cuzcoensis as well), Trichocereus macrogonus, Echinopsis macrogona, Trichocereus f. Ancash, Trichocereus sp. Ayacucho, Trichocereus giganteus, Trichocereus longispinus, Trichocereus sp. Pamacoche, Trichocereus sp. Matucana, Trichocereus rosei,
Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus pachanoiare sister species and closely related. Some field botanist considered them one large and variable species and there are countless intermediates and hybrids that could be placed in either species. Around 1950-1980, some authors came up with a large number of unnecessary species names and most of these plants would fit into the description of Trichocereus peruvianus as well.
Some commercial names that we sometimes see in combination with Trichocereus peruvianus.
Please note that these are not officially accepted varieties and we only list them in this form because they were listed by wholesale:
Trichocereus peruvianus var. (H14192), Huntington, EE.UU. Trichocereus peruvianus var. huancabamba, Piura, northwest Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. huancavelica (KK242a), west central Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. cuzcoensis (KK340), Huachac, Cuzco, southeastern Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. huancayo (KK338), west central Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. ancash (KK1688), San Marcos, Ancash, northwest Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. matucana (KK242) Lima, central west Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. puquiensis (KK1689), Puquio, Apurimac Region, southwestern peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. trujilloensis, Trujillo, La Libertad, northwestern Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. tarmensis (KK2148), Tarma, Junin, west central Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. Rio Lurin (KK2147), Rio Rimac, Lima, west central Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. ayacuchensis (KK2151), southwestern Peru. Trichocereus peruvianus var. huaraz (KK2152), Ancash, northwestern Peru.
Culture of T. peruvianus:
The culture of Trichocereus peruvianus is not very hard. The plant has very similar requirements as other Trichocereus species like Trichocereus macrogonus or Trichocereus pachanoi. Trichocereus peruvianus is an extremely frost resistant plant that can thrive in the most difficult environment. Some of its forms grow columnar while some others are creeping/prostrate. In their natural habitats, they even hang down on hills or rocky slopes. When watering cacti, the soil should not stay wet for more than a couple of hours because it greatly increases the probability of rot. Cacti need a substrate that dries out fast and too much water is often deadly for them. Apart from a little bit of water here and there, you should only water Trichocereus peruvianus when it´s warm. During the hot growth-season, they can take daily or weekly watering and like to be fertilized on a 7-14-days schedule. I even fertilize weekly during the main season, but that also depends on your personal way of growing cacti. It’s best to use a mineral substrate like Pumice or Lava, with additives like Coir, Sand, Sowing Soil, Expanded Clay etc. Just make sure to add in a very small part of Coir or Humus because it helps to solidify the soil and increases the cactus ability to take in nutrients. I personally love Lava and Pumice and the plants enjoy it very much! Echinopsis peruviana aka Trichocereus peruvianus likes a sunny place in half-shade, but not full sun. They can take it if they are used to it, but it increases the risk of sunburn. Especially directly after the winter period when they are not used to it yet.
Winter & Frost Protection: Trichocereus peruvianus is a relatively frost hardy cactus. It’s usually not a problem for it to take take a little night frost here and there and is tolerant down to -9° Celsius. But that’s really the limit and I would not be comfortable to push it below that. There are always plants are less frost tolerant than others and you never know where the limit for your plant is going to be. A plant that spent its life in a heated greenhouse, will die very soon if you suddenly start exposing it to cold winter frost. The cacti need to be hardened up and in a good general health. In my greenhouse I overwinter Trichocereus at 1° Celsius between December and March.
Minimum average winter temperature:
The ideal average winter temperature for Trichocereus peruvianus is 10° Celsius. That´s close to their natural winter period in habitat. Trichocereus peruvianus can compensate short frosts down to 15.8° Fahrenheit every now and then but you should take care that it has an average temperature of around 50° Fahrenheit.
Winter storage & Winter Protection for Trichocereus:
Trichocereus peruvianus needs fresh air during the wintertime if you want to overwinter the plant inside. It also needs light and the soil has to be completely dry, to make sure that the rootstock does not rot. This is important because that’s exactly what happens in the habitat during the winter time. Trichocereus peruvianus can deal with low temperatures as long as its dry. Of course all those overwintering-rules only apply of you live in a country with hard winter frost down to -20° celsius and lower. If you live in a warmer country such as Australia, this certainly is not a problem for you and water or high air humidity are the bigger problem then. I also know many growers from the CA area in the USA, and they usually get their plants over the winter without problems, if they do nor get surprisingly cold frosts. Leave your Trichocereus peruvianus in a bright room, give it a little bit fresh air every now and then and make sure to keep the temperatures below 10° Celsius. As soon as you put them in a heated room, they will require regular waterings and light or they will die quickly. In addition they will etiolate. If kept dry, the water requirements during the winter are minimal though. The minimum temp in Fahrenheit is 50° Fahrenheit. No water should be given between late autumn (October-early May) unless you grow them in a heated place, eg greenhouse or house. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, you can take out most Trichocereus in early March, but you should also check the maximum frost tolerance of the species you take out. There are many cacti that need higher temperatures to stay healthy.
Germinating Trichocereus peruvianus seeds:
Just like Seed of other Trichocereus species, Trichocereus peruvianus seeds need light to germinate. I usually prepare a mix of Pumice, Lava, Coir, and Sand and and sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil. Make sure not to knock off the sowing container/pot because that would probably bury the seeds and that’s never a good thing. Buried seeds often do not germinate due to the lacking light or they germinate deep inside the soil and die. So yeah, sprinkle them on top of the soil and make sure that the temperatures are between 26° and 30° Celsius. Make sure to add in enough water to start the germination process. However, it does not take a lot of water to kick start the germination and it’s always better to give very little water early on because you can always add in some more. But if you add too much water in the beginning, it cannot be undone without risking to wash or soak away the seed with the excess water. With a syringe, excess water can be removed from the sowing container. Put the sowing containers in a bright and warm place and be patient. A window sill works perfectly. You can also use a LED lamp to give them enough light to germinate and I can recommend that very much because it increases the germination rate. Adding a decent LED Lamp (like 100 Watt and above) will increase germination rates dramatically and the plants are healthier and grow faster.
Germination of seeds and why some seeds don’t germinate
The problem with seeds is that some shops resell seed from South America wholesalers that sell over-aged seed. So the shops might not know about the bad germination rates that their seeds have and that´s a real problem with Trichocereus peruvianus seed on the market. If you did everything I just mentioned and your seed does not germinate within like 2-6 weeks, it´s most likely old garbage. It does not help to keep it wet for longer than that because that’s not how germination of cactus seeds works. Instead, you let it dry and start another cycle once the soil is completely dry. It does not help to keep dead seed in germination chambers for 6+ weeks. You will just grow Algae and Moss. Another problem that you can get with commercial seed is that there´s a lot of misidentified seeds of this species available on the market. The people who collect these seeds usually don´t have access to literature and that´s why the misidentification rate is extremely high. . Many Trichocereus cuzcoensis are sold as Trichocereus peruvianus and that´s a big problem for the seed market.
My best recommendation is that if you can get in touch with the seed producer, send them a message and ask about a pic of the mother plant. That way, you can minimize the risk of getting mislabeled seed.
Seed Viability of Echinopsis peruviana/ Trichocereus peruvianus:
The seed of Trichocereus peruvianus is viable for many, many years. I sometimes successfully germinate seeds that are more than 5-10 years old but it always depends on the storage and the seed. Some are dead within a couple of months while some can even stay viable for decades, like Ariocarpus seeds. The bigger the seed, the longer they are viable btw. Rebutia are dead within a couple of weeks, Trichocereus & Echinopsis 5-10 years, Ariocarpus 10+ years, Echinocereus (5-10 years), Lophophora (2-5 years at max).
How to differentiate Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus cuzcoensis?
The swollen spine bases of Trichocereus cuzcoensis are the main trait that Britton and Rose used to tell them apart. Trichocereus peruvianus does NOT have swollen spine bases. There are many intermediates and forms in between the two, but in regards to the original description that’s the most important trait. In addition, Trichocereus cuzcoensis only grows in Cuzco. There are relatives of Trichocereus cuzcoensis that can be found in other parts of Peru however, e.g. Trichocereus knuthianus, Trichocereus schoenii, etc
How to differentiate Trichocereus peruvianus and macrogonus
Both species are probably synonymous. Trichocereus macrogonus was used for plants with dark brown or red spines, while plants with different spine color were seen as Trichocereus peruvianus. The original description of Trichocereus macrogonus is ancient, lacked important traits or information such as country of origin and the original plant was never found again afterwards. Technically, Trichocereus macrogonus is the older name and might replace Trichocereus peruvianus as official name one day (IF the problematic description will be accepted). Some authors have already started to use this system, but is unclear if it will be accepted officially. Modern taxonomy moves towards fewer species, with a larger number of subspecies or varieties and I completely support that.
Trichocereus peruvianus from Lurin Valle / Lurin Valley
Trichocereus peruvianus from Ayacucho
Trichocereus peruvianus intermediate
Trichocereus peruvianus Apurimac KK1689
Trichocereus peruvianus ‘Rosei 1’ (Rodni Kisar)
Backeberg´s Description of Trichocereus peruvianus
Trichocereus peruvianus Br. & R. — The Cact., II : 136. 1920 Cereusrosei Werd., in Backeberg, „Neue Kakteen“, 101. 1931. Entweder ± aufrecht oder überliegend bis hängend, 2—4 m lang; Tr. bis 20 cm ∅, anfangs bereift; Rippen über den Areolen etwas eingesenkt und ± höckerig erscheinend, breit-rund; Areolen bis 2,5 cm entfernt, ziemlich groß, braunfilzig; St. zuerstbraun, ca. 10, einigebis 4 cm lang, stark undsteif, Basis nicht verdickt; Bl. weiß, groß, zum Teil zahlreich nach dem Scheitel zu entwickelt. — P e r u (bei Matucana; nach Rauh bis oberhalb von Matucana bzw. bei Tamboraque ander Lima—Oroya-Bahn bis auf 2800 m) (Abb. 1059—1060, Tafel 76). Britton u. Rose bilden mit ihrer Fig. 197 einenbaumartigaufrechten Cereus ab, Rauh dagegen einen hängenden; ichselbstfand die Art anfangs ± aufrecht, dann überliegend bisniederliegend. Es kommenbei Matucana aber auch Exemplare des aufrechten T. santaensisvor, den Britton u. Rose wohlnicht als besondere Art erkannten. Die Identifizierung dieser Art mit Tr. macrogonus (Kkde., 20. 1941) kann ich nicht aufrechterhalten.
Friedrich Ritter´s Description
T R I C H O C E R E U S (BERGER) RICCOBONO 1909 TRICHOCEREUS PACHANOI BR. & R. 1920 The Cactaceae, Bd. 2, S. 134 und TRICHOCEREUS PACHANOI FORMA PERUVIANUS RITT. comb. nov. syn. TRICHOCEREUS PERUVIANUS BR. & R. 1920 The Cactaceae, Bd. 2, S. 136 Für TRICHOCER. PACHANOI geben BR. & R. als Typusort an CUENCA, Ecuador, für TRICHOCER. PERUVIANUS MATUCANA, Peru. In Wahrheit liegtnur eine Art vor. ROSE war jedenfalls ungenügend orientiert Über die große Variationsbreitedieser Art in Bestachlung und Areolengröße. Man kann TRICHOCER. PERUVIANUS nur als eine Form der PACHANOI ansehen, die entweder allein oder mit letzterer an gleichen Stellen wächst von Ecuador bis Mittelperu, und zwar mit Übergangsformen in einander. Für die Form PACHANOI sind typisch Ar. von 3-5 mm Dm., feine Rst. vonwenigen mm Länge und meist nur 1 Mst. von wenigen mm bis zu etwa 2 cm Länge. Oft fehlen die St. völlig, oder sie sind nur an jüngeren Pflanzen vorhanden undfehlen an älteren Köpfen. Formen, welche Ar. von etwa 5 bis nahezu 10 mm Dm. haben und stärkere St., von denen der mittlere meist über 2 cm Länge hat und selten bis über 10 cm Länge erreichen kann, wird man als FORMA PERUVIANUS bezeichnen. Die Zahl der St. kannbei beiden Formen bis auf etwa 10 gehen, die Anordnung der St. und das Größenverhältnis zwischenRst. zuMst. ist bei beiden Formen dasselbe, Mst. sind nur einer vorhanden, seltener 2-3. Die St. beider Formen sind nur unterschieden durch Länge und Dicke; es mag also vielleicht für beide Formen nur je ein Allel eines einzigen Gen vorliegen, so daß eine Weiterführung des Namens PERUVIANUS als forma wohl nur aus Tradition zu rechtfertigen ist, wegen der Zweiteilung der Art durch Br. & R., denn solche Erbformen pflegt man an sich nicht taxonomisch zu benennen. Da eine genaue Bl.-Beschreibung nie erfolgte, gebe ich hier eine solche von einer Bl. (mit Foto) eines Exemplars östlich von SAMNE, Prov. OTUSCO, Depart. La Libertad, wo beide Formen mit Übergängen zusammen wachsen. Bl. seitlich, nicht sehr weit unter dem Triescheitel, ziemlich waagerecht vom Trieb abstehend, 21 cm lang, mit einer Weite zwischen den äußersten Krbl. vonca 20 cm. Über dem Frkn. ist die Rö. leicht nach oben gebogen, während die Öffnung der Rö. wieder leicht nach unten gebogenist. Frkn. 22 mm lang und dick, grün, gehöckert, mit schmalen grünen Schuppen von unten 1 mm bis oben ca 4 mm Länge und mit reichlichen schwarzbraunen Wollhaaren. N.-K. 23 mm lang, aber nur etwa 5 mm weit um den Gr., blaß bräunlich, mit etwas Nektar. Rö. darüber 8 cm lang, Öffnung 4,5 mm weit, mit 6 mm (unten) bis 25 mm (oben) langen graugrünen Schuppen und schwarzen, 15-25 mm langen Wollbüscheln. Stbf. blaßgrün, nach den Enden hellgelb, der Rö. aufliegend, 8-10 cm lang, die des Saumes 4,5 cm lang, Insertionslücke 4 cm lang unter dem Saum, Beutel brauncreme, 2,5 mm lang, 1 mm breit, Pollen weiß. Gr. blaßgrün, 19,5 cm lang, wovon 3 cm auf die 15 hellgelben, überragenden Narbenlappen kommen. Innere Krbl. weiß, 9-10 cm lang, 3,5-4 cm breit, bei etwa 2/3 Länge am breitesten, oben gerundet mit aufgesetzter hellgelber Spitze; äußere Krbl. 8-11 cm lang, 14-18 mm breit, fast von unten ab zugespitzt, nach unten hellgrün, nach den Enden rotbraun, stark nach außen gebogen. Einige Samenangaben siehe unter TRICHOCER. KNUTHIANUS. Nr. FR 567 (Form PACHANOI) und Nr. FR 155 (Form PERUVIANUS). Abb. 1186.
Videos of Trichocereus peruvianus / Echinopsis peruviana