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Trichocereus deserticola (Echinopsis)
Trichocereus deserticola is a columnar cactus from Chile. This species also includes Trichocereus fulvilanus now. The Echinopsis name is Echinopsis fulvilana and that species was merged with Trichocereus deserticolus.
Trichocereus deserticola is a plant with a complex and close relationship to Trichocereus fulvilanus and Trichocereus chalaensis. Their habitats touch each other in one certain area between Paposo and El Cobre. While Trichocereus fulvilanus grows from Caldera in the north to El Cobre and Trichocereus deserticola grows from Paposo down in the south to Tocopilla in the north. While some taxonomists regarded Trichocereus fulvilanus to be unrelated to Trichocereus deserticola, I really don´t share that opinion. Yes, Trichocereus deserticolus / deserticola is different from Trichocereus fulvilanus, but there clearly is some kind of relationship to be seen.
Synonyms: Echinopsis deserticola, Trichocereus deserticola, Cereus deserticola, Cereus fulvilanus, Echinopsis fulvilanus, Echinopsis fulvilana,Trichocereus deserticolus, Echinopsis deserticolus
Origin: Chile. The location of the typus is Antofagasta. It also grows around Atacama, El cobre, Paposo, Tocopilla, etc. Trichocereus deserticolus grows in a moister climate than Trichocereus fulvilanus, which likes to grow around the coastlines and that prefers a drier climate. Because of that, Trichocereus deserticolus prefers to grow in the higher areas around Paposo, where it is extremely common.
Trichocereus deserticolus is a branched plant that does not get as big as other Trichocereus species. It´s usually somewhere between 1-2 meters tall, but most of them are around 1 meter.
Ribs: 9-13, with very strong furrows. This plant is somewhat similar to Trichocereus chalaensis, which grows creeping.
The areoles are 1-2 centimeter apart of each other. Trichocereus deserticola usually has 2-3 middle thorns and 18-24 radial thorns. Which are very thin and have a dark brown/reddish color. The epidermis of the skin shows a very weak, pale green color.
Flowers: The flowers are white and a little bit smaller than the ones on other Trichocereus species. The size of the flowers is between 5 and 12 centimeters. They have brown/black hairs and the fruits are round and can be eaten.
On the bigger picture, this plant is most likely related to Trichocereus chilensis, Trichocereus fulvilanus, Tr. chalaensis and Trichocereus coquimbanus as well.
Cultivation: Trichocereus deserticolus should be treated just like every other Trichocereus from Chile. It does not require very much water and requires a soil that dries out very fast. I usually use purely mineral soil mixes and Trichocereus deserticolus aka Echinopsis deserticola likes it a lot.
Seed & live cuttings: There are almost no seeds of Trichocereus deserticola available. Sometimes you can get small cuttings on sites like eBay. I sometimes have cuttings for sale, and if you are looking for Tr. deserticola I´d recommend you to subscribe to my newsletter!
Winter protection: Trichocereus deserticola should not be kept at temperatures below -5° celsius and the plants have to be completely dry if you want to overwinter them inside. A perfect overwintering temperature is around 10° celsius, which is something around 50° Fahrenheit. They should be kept at a bright and well ventilated area.
by Michael Wolf
By Leonora Enking
Trichocereus fulvilanus v. longispina flower photos: