Trichocereus chalaensis (Rauh & Backeberg) Echinopsis
Trichocereus chalaensis is a Peruvian Trichocereus species that is closely related to Trichocereus glaucus. Its alternative Echinopsis name is Echinopsis chalaensis (Rauh & Backeberg). I treat it as a correct species in the genus Trichocereus until DNA testing is able to disprove this. Right now, the name Echinopsis chalaensis is still formally valid, but it´s just a matter of time until the new findings and decisions on the taxonomy of these former Echinopsis Trichos will lead to the official revival of the genus Trichocereus and some of its former species. I follow Joel Lodé´s system, which lists the plant as Trichocereus chalaensis (Rauh & Backeberg).
The type locality & origin: Peru, Arequipa. Chala in the south of Peru. This species was collected by various field botanists, including Friedrich Ritter & Rauh. Rauh´s collection number is “Rauh K128” and Friedrich Ritters FR number is FR1052. The type is common in the southern parts of Peru and usually grows creeping down slopes, similar to Trichocereus glaucus var. pendens. Because of that, it´s possible they are at least partially synonymous.
Synonyms of Echinopsis chalaensis:
Trichocereus chalaensis, Echinopsis chalaensis, SS04, Trichocereus glaucus, Trichocereus glaucus var. pendens, Trichocereus lucernatus,
Sacred Succulents sold this species under a couple of different names. Trichocereus glaucus, of which there are pics of on Michael Smith´s amazing Flickr Page! Besides, they sold/sell this type as SS04 and Trichocereus chalaensis.
he description is very similar to the one of Trichocereus glaucus (Ritter) and it´s definitely possible that this is the same plant.
Description of Trichocereus chalaensis:
Trichocereus chalaensis grows like a shrub and can often be found growing prostate on rocky slopes or little hills. It can get between 3-5 meters tall and reaches a maximum diameter of up to 18 centimeters. It has 7-9 ribs and has very strong furrows. The spines are dark brown to red and extremely beautiful. The color is similar to the spines on the Trichocereus fulvilanus form of Trichocereus deserticolus / Echinopsis deserticola.
Trichocereus chalaensis has 1-3 middle spines (3-6 centimeters) and 5-11 radial spines (1-2 centimeters), depending on the region. The spines reach a maximum length of 5-7 centimeters. The plant has very strong furrows, directly above the areoles.
Flowers of E. chalaensis:
The flowers are white and look similar to the ones on Trichocereus glaucus. Trichocereus chalaensis is a night flowering species and it is self-sterile. That means that you need another plant to act as a pollen donor in order to produce seeds. Some flowers I saw were up to 20 centimeters large and up to 12 centimeters wide. But flower size differentiated greatly and the norm was around 14 centimeters. Very beautiful and well scented flowers though. Tube is about 2,5 centimeters thick, with dark brown and black hairs, sepals reddish to green in color and the petals are white.
Trichocereus chalaensis usually has a bright green color. The species is very close to Trichocereus glaucus and Friedrich Ritter considered it as a distant relative of Trichocereus chiloensis. He thought that the complex around T. glaucus/chalaensis originated from Chile and made their way by invasive evolution through large parts of south Peru. Trichocereus chalaensis is the most northern growing Trichocereus species, reaching from the southern part of the Chilean cactus west to the north all around the coast and in some parts west of the desert-belt, while all other Trichocereus were growing in the east, in much higher regions. Trichocereus chalaensis grows at around 200 meters altitude, which is really low for a Trichocereus.
Cultivation of T. chalaensis:
There is not really that much information about how to grow this plant and about its frost resistance. I know of growers that grow Trichocereus chalaensis in California indicates that it is probably similar as other Trichocereus, what would mean that it might stand short night frosts and requires a minimum average temperature of 10° Celsius. I planted some of them too this year, but they are still too small to say more or make pictures of them. I will post more pics of Trichocereus chalaensis in the next couple days.
Sources for Trichocereus chalaensis seeds:
This plant is really rare in cultivation, but there are a couple of shops and sellers that sell seed every now and then. Sacred Succulents is selling them as SS04 and as Trichocereus chalaensis but that´s about the only source I know apart from the cuttings that are actively traded in our Trichocereus Facebook group at https://facebook.com/groups/trichocereus. Most recently, Misplant has stocked some rare Trichocereus chalaensis hybrids as well.
Pics: Tricho Nest from http://cactusaffinity.com
Pics: Tricho Nest from http://cactusaffinity.com