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Trichocereus cuzcoensis – Echinopsis cuzcoensis

Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis

Trichocereus cuzcoensis is a Trichocereus species from Cusco in Peru. It is described as a species that is limited to Cusco and only plants from that area count as Trichocereus cuzcoensis in the sense of the description. Many people on forums and Facebook groups identify close relatives of Trichocereus cuzcoensis from other parts of Peru as Trichocereus cuzcoensis, which is absolutely false. Such species are Trichocereus knuthianus, Trichocereus schoenii, Trichocereus tarmaensis, Trichocereus uyupampensis, Trichocereus tulhuayacensis, Trichocereus chalaensis, the spiny forms from Chavin etc. There are probably more, but those are the ones that I see misidentified the most. Trichocereus cuzcoensis is probably the most misidentified species in this genus, simply because people just love to identify things as Trichocereus cuzcoensis. If in doubt, always bring in a specialist that actually knows how similar some of the species mentioned before can be sometimes.

The current name of Trichocereus cuzcoensis still is Echinopsis cuzcoensis, but many good authors have abandoned this sinking ship and went back to use the Trichocereus names. Check out Joel Lodé´s book TAXONOMY OF THE CACTACEAE. Trichocereus cuzcoensis, also known as Echinopsis cuzcoensis, is considered a correct and valid species, despite it´s obvious similarity to many forms of Trichocereus peruvianus. There are countless intermediates between Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus cuzcoensis (especially at sites where both grow together) and there are many regional forms that show traits of both species.  As an example, there are Peruvianoid forms of Trichocereus cuzcoensis with a higher rib count than the standard version, but without swollen spine bases and and there are specimens of Trichocereus peruvianus that show some traits of Trichocereus cuzcoensis. For example, even the Icaro DNA peruvianus have swollen spine bases, but no one in their right mind would treat them as Trichocereus cuzcoensis. Personally, I think that Trichocereus cuzcoensis and Trichocereus peruvianus are so similar that they are at least subspecies or varieties of the same species. We´ve already seen lots of different regional forms of Trichocereus cuzcoensis. Everywhere T.cuzcoensis grows in direct neighborhood of Trichocereus peruvianus, they hybridize with each other and form transitional forms. The whole group around Trichocereus peruvianus is extremely variable and that also includes Trichocereus cuzcoensis as well. Please note that Trichocereus cuzcoensis is MORE than just Karel Knize´s KK242, which has become THE textbook definition of a cuzco. The hate around KK242 is responsible for giving the species a bad rep and that´s absolutely not justified as far as we are concerned. It´s a beautiful and unique species and large mother plants are usually stunning.

Because there are countless forms of Trichocereus cuzcoensis or its close relatives, we started collecting as many photos as we can to put them here together. 

Description of T. cuzcoensis:

Echinopsis Cuzcoensis is a columnar cactus that grows columnar and is pupping from the base. It can get more than five meters tall, though most collection plants that are grown in pots do not exceed 2 meters. However, in countries like Australia, there are many huge plants of Trichocereus cuzcoensis to be found. New growth has a bright green color. It can get between 7 -9 rounded Ribs and the areoles are approximately 1-2 centimeters apart from each other. Trichocereus cuzcoensis has many, very strong spines. The number of spines is very variable but in most cases, I observed between 8-12 spines. The spines usually have a rounded, knobby base. New spine growth is yellow or dark brown while old spine growth is usually dark gray to white with slight black undertones or black spine tips. The spines usually are between 5-10 centimeters long. If you have a suspected E.cuzcoensis with a low rib count, it is likely not a Cuzco but a close relative such as the plants from San Marcos, T. schoenii, T. santaensis, etc.

Trichocereus cuzcoensis is a night-flowering species but the flowers usually stay fresh until the morning of the next day. It is self-sterile and you need another specimen as pollen donor in order to produce seed.


The flower color is white and the flower is usually very large. It measures up to 16 centimeters, the tube is green and 7-8 centimeters long. Petals are approximately 5 centimeters long and there are hairs covering the flower.

Type locality:

Peru, Cuzco. Cuzcoensis relatives from other areas do not count as T.cuzcoensis is the sense of the description.

Synonyms, commercial names & Varieties:

Trichocereus knuthianus, Trichocereus crassiarboreus, Cereus cuzcoensis, KK242, KK340, KK1911 Knuthianus, Trichocereus tarmaensis. Please note that some of these are close relatives that we count in the winder context of this species.


Trichocereus Cuzcoensis is grown just like other Trichocereus species. It´s a very tough and frost hardy species and is able to cope with temperatures down to -9° celsius/15.8° Fahrenheit for short periods of time. The minimum average temperature is 10° celsius/50° fahrenheit. That temperature is also the minimum temperature that it needs to stay healthy during the winter.

Winter protection:

Trichocereus cuzcoensis can be overwintered in a bright and well ventilated place. The temperature should be around 9-10° Celsius and the plants need to be completely dry. In european countries, the growers stop giving water and fertilizer in late summer (September or October) and take em in until early May or April. Keeping the plants dry and cold over winter also helps to increase flower production. Plants that are kept in a warm room over the winter lose their ability to flower. Besides, plants or seedlings need to be watered on a regular basis as soon as you have them in a heated room. If you want to overwinter a Trichocereus in a warm room (20°-30° Celsius), you have to water it on a regular basis. You can only overwinter a plant “dry” if the temperatures are low.

Growing Trichocereus cuzcoensis from seed: Trichocereus cuzcoensis is very easy from seed, because it is relatively resistant to most pests. One of the biggest challenges is to get good quality seed because most cuzcoensis seed on the market is pretty old and some do not even germinate. I am constantly looking for interesting new types of Trichocereus cuzcoensis, because they are amazing plants. Take a look at the pics from the Sacred Succulents Field Trips that are labeled “Cuzcoensis” and you will most likely agree. Germination temperature for Trichocereus cuzcoensis is between 26° and 30° celsius. It only needs very little water to induce germinations and if you have quality seed, they will germinate within 2-6 weeks. If nothing shows up by the 6th week, you will probably not get germinations at all. In this case, remove the lid, let the soil dry out and start with the germination process again. Those cycles mimic the way this actually happens in nature and sometimes, you will be able to re-activate dead seed. You can also add GA-3, which is Gibberelic Acid or use a strong HPS or LED lamp to wake the seeds up, because ultraviolet light increases germination rates. In general, Trichocereus seeds need light to germinate, so do not cover them with soil.

Trichocereus cuzcoensis Seed Sources: I have some great seeds in my shop right now. The first one comes from Huancavelica in Peru and the other one is somewhere between Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus cuzcoensis.

Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Master Evan Echinopsis

This looks like a very typical Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242. This strain was originally brought into cultivation by Karel Knize. He also sold various types of similar plants labeled as Trichocereus cuzcoensis, Trichocereus macrogonus or Trichocereus peruvianus. The label KK242 does not refer to a particular plant but the area where the seeds/cuttings were collected at. Because of that, there are many plants labeled KK242 which are NOT a Trichocereus cuzcoensis. The type just looks so unique and remarkable that it stuck and most plants that look like this are usually identified as KK242. Which is not really correct because that´s just one of the many types that grow within the KK242 range. However, most of the KK242 are in fact Trichocereus cuzcoensis. Pic: Master Evan

Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis

Another KK242

Below: A form of KK242 that is not a Trichocereus cuzcoensis.

Trichocereus Cuzcoensis KK242 Rio Lurin_J33_2_jpg

One of the many faces of KK242. Copyright K.Trout

3 Trichocereus cuzcoensis, Lamay, Cusco, Peru 2010 copyright B
Ben Kamm

Copyright: Ben Kamm, Sacred Succulents

Also check out this posting with many cool Cuzcos fom the Sacredsucculents Field Trips!

Trichocereus cuzcoensis Echinopsis cuzcoensis Nitrogen
Trichocereus cuzcoensis - Echinopsis cuzcoensis Nitrogen

Trichocereus cuzcoensis Echinopsis cuzcoensis Delia Kisar Delia Kisar Trichocereus cuzcoensis Echinopsis cuzcoensis Delia Kisar

Trichocereus cuzcoensis Rodni Kisar
Rodni Kisar
Trichocereus cuzcoensis Echinopsis cuzcoensis
Trichocereus cuzcoensis Echinopsis cuzcoensis 3
Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis
KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis
Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis
Trichocereus cuzcoensis KK242 Echinopsis cuzcoensis

Videos of Trichocereus cuzcoensis / Echinopsis cuzcoensis

Check out our main plant database pages for Trichocereus pachanoi aka Echinopsis pachanoi here:

And Trichocereus bridgesii here:

Trichocereus scopulicola

Also check out our Trichocereus Facebook group here:

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KK242 – Trichocereus cuzcoensis & more!

Trichocereus cuzcoensis - Echinopsis cuzcoensis

KK242 Trichocereus cuzcoensis is a collection number by the Peruvian seed & cactus seller Karel Knize. He is know for his many Trichocereus species and KK242 was one of them. But it´s not actually a species because we grew all kinds of different species from those KK242 seeds. Most were Trichocereus cuzcoensis, but that´s definitely not the complete story.

Most of the plants labeled as KK242 are representative for a very typical Trichocereus cuzcoensis. However, the KK242 is simply a collection name that stands for the area where the plants come from. And within that area, there are all kinds of different populations and all were sold using the same name. Imagine you live in a town and every plant is given the same collection name. That is what´s actually going on with KK242. Like already mentioned, the largest part of the plants labeled KK242 are Trichocereus cuzoensis. That is also because the name became the archetype of a typical Cuzcoensis and there are many people that label every one of their cuzcoensis plants “KK242”.And that´s neither correct nor practicable.

Now, most of the KK242s on the market were distributed by Knize´s website. If I remember correctly, none of the KK242 sold was actually labeled as Trichocereus cuzcoensis.

Those are the KK242 collections that I know of:

KK242 Trichocereus peruvianus – Matucana (frosted stem, brown spines)
KK242 Trichocereus peruvianus – Rio Chillon (from central Peru)
KK242 Trichocereus peruvianus – form. Langa
KK242 Trichocereus peruvianus – Rio Lurin (please note that the Lurin Trichocereus is actually a peruvianus, despite it being labeled as KK242!)
KK242 Trichocereus peruvianus – Huancavelica (which probably is a Peruvianus too)

Please note that apart from those different collection sites, there were cuttings and seeds from all kinds of mother plants sold and distributed throughout the world. That means that seed labeled as Kk242 can produce all kinds of plants, not just the KK242 Cuzcoensis.

Where to buy seeds and plants of KK242? : Well, if you are looking for a KK242, it is your lucky day. And that is because they are everywhere. On Ebay, a large part of the Trichocereus species sold are actually KK242s. Nonetheless, there also are other cuzcoensis varieties that you can encounter and many of them might even be labeled KK242, though they actually are a different cuzcoensis type from another location. And that´s why the bad image that the species Trichocereus cuzcoensis, or the KK242 in particular, receives is not justified. They are wonderful and amazing specimens and have such a great diversity that it´s totally not fair to reduce KK242 to that well know cuzcoensis type from Matucana. Some seed sellers might even have some KK242 in stock (and potentially labeled as Trichocereus peruvianus) though they are not aware of it. Most seed collectors or seed producers just label them “Trichocereus peruvianus” and since they don´t have the space or the funds to grow them all before they offer the seed, they don´t or simply can´t test it. Many people that sell cactus seed are still poor and they neither have the funds to grow them nor the knowledge to ID them. Of course, there are very skilled Taxonomists and Botanists from countries like Peru, Argentina or Bolivia. But there also are many people selling seeds or cuttings that are not.
Mislabeled seed is a problem that almost every seed salesman has to face from time to time and I know of a couple of cases in which large shop owners stopped doing business with certain collectors/wholesalers who sell mislabeled seeds that brought them into trouble with their customers. I recently came across someone who was pretty pissed for receiving a KK242 instead of the Tr. Peruvianus that he ordered. And with a good reason. But I guess it comes with the job that stuff like this happens from time to time. And if I were in the position of someone who ended up getting a cuzcoensis instead of a peruvianus, I´d just message the seller and explain the problem. You know, there are so many different types, varieties, and even intermediates, that it´s sometimes impossible to draw the line somewhere. Again, Trichocereus cuzcoensis is SO MUCH MORE than just KK242. And there are countless peruvianus types that are somehow related to cuzcoensis and show or two traits that are typical for cuzcoensis too.
Most wholesale seed collectors label their plant “Trichocereus Peruvianus” and keeping in mind the current taxonomy (which tends to merge the plants into a bigger species), it might even be the correct taxonomical label. Personally, I think a shop owner should add as much information about the background of a plant that he has, in order to give the customer a vague idea of what he can expect to grow. But since that´s not always possible (due to collectors just not labeling plants right) it´s the stuff that will always happen. And usually, that´s not because the seller is greedy SOB who wants to rip-off his customers, but because there aren’t so many people around who can keep peruvianus and cuzcoensis apart. Those collectors rarely are skilled with ID and though they sometimes know how the type they collect seed of is called by the locals, it´s far from being reliable. There are cuzcoensis forms available from Peru that come labeled as Trichocereus macrogonus or Trichocereus peruvianus. Because that´s how the other collectors labeled them. And chances are that other collectors will use the same name in the future, whenever they collect seed of that plant.

It´s not hard to recognize the KK242 cuzcoensis, but as I already said…where to draw the line? There are so many intermediatory forms that it´s kinda pointless because you´ll end up calling some perfectly peruvianoid types a Trichocereus cuzcoensis, just based on the fact that it has a couple characteristics that also exist on a cuzco.
Most of the people who offer “cuzcoensis” labeled as “peruvianus” probably weren’t even aware of the fact that their plants are more on the cuzco end of the spectrum. And since modern taxonomy went on to merge a lot of those species into the larger ones like “peruvianus” and “pachanoi”, this might happen a lot more in the future. And when dealing with seed collectors that visit local populations in Peru, Bolivia or anywhere else in the world…it´s rare that they include the collection sites with their seed or even add pics. I know many wholesalers, who have to grow their seed just to know what type they have bought. And if you keep in mind that some of those plants will take 3-5 years until they are big  enough to say anything about the local population, it get´s obvious that the remaining seed would have already become unviable in the meantime. And that is a problem that will never really go away. Of course, it´s actually a pretty bad situation but the short lifespan of some seeds is the reason why there are so many shaky ID´s when buying seed from Peru; or other areas where cacti are grown as commercial crops. But despite the fact that it can be frustrating to find out that you ended up buying mislabeled seed…I still prefer it to getting unviable seed.  Because thats the only thing worse than getting mislabeled seed.

So yeah, always ask where the seed is coming from. And ask about how fresh it is too! An honest seed supplier is EXTREMELY important because when growing plants from seed, a lot of this is based on trust. From all the cactus seed, I bought in my lifetime, at least 1/3 was unviable or misidentified. And as a buyer, that´s something that you can´t prevent. Some crosses just are bad or are a genetic mismatch. Or, some seeds are just too old.
So yeah, if there are issues with seeds contact your seed supplier and tell them/ask for a replacement. Not only can you help to weed out unreliable suppliers but you give the store owner a fair and honest feedback.  KK242 Trichocereus cuzcoensis is a type that is notorious for having a whole lot of bad seed available on the market. I honestly only heard about one or two people who successfully raised some of them from seed. One of them is the SAB store by the way. Apart from the two I just mentioned, I only heard of unviable KK242 seed. That doesn’t mean that there is/was no good KK242 Trichocereus cuzcoensis on the market…but please be careful when buying this type of seed because a lot of it is, well let´s call it “difficult”.

I have many pics on this website and most of them include data about where the plants are growing. It´s not always possible to guess how a seedling might look like in the future, but the collection site is a good starting point.
If you have pics of different KK242s, please let me know our Trichocereus Facebook group and I´ll add them to the site.

Photos of Trichocereus KK242

KK242 Trichocereus cuzcoensis Master Evan

Pic: Master Evan

Trichocereus KK242 Matucana _K39_5_jpg

KK242 Matucana – Copyright Trout

Trichocereus KK242 Matucana K39_4_jpg

KK242 Matucana, Copyright Trout

Trichocereus KK242 Matucana K39_3_jpg


Another type that Knize sold. Please note that this plant looks nothing like the KK242 Cuzcoensis. It´s possible that it is related to the more Cuzcoensis type KK242, but it´s a great reminder that KK242 is nothing but a “location” and not, the plant!







The plant above is what was grown from KK242 Seeds from JLH.


 Copyright: K.Trout

KK242 – Rio Lurin or Lurin Valle

This Form is a Plant that is very different from the KK242 Cuzcoensis that became so common around the World. It´s more of a standard Trichocereus Peruvianus and looks absolutely stunning as an Adult Plant! Great Type!


So this Peruvianus was grown from a KK242 Seed Bag. It is obviously not the typical Cuzcoensis Type Tricho so i found it noteworthy to add this plant.

Trichocereus KK242 Matucana

Trichocereus KK242 – Langa


Check out our main plant database pages for Trichocereus pachanoi aka Echinopsis pachanoi here:

And Trichocereus bridgesii here:

Also check out our Trichocereus Facebook group here: