Trichocereus peruvianus Echinopsis peruviana

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Trichocereus peruvianus Echinopsis peruviana

Trichocereus peruvianus or Echinopsis peruviana is 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

Description: 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.

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.

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.

Flower:

The flower is white and reaches as size of up to 25 centimeters. Trichocereus peruvianus is a night flowering species.

Type locality:

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 longispinus.

Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus pachanoi are 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: 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: 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.

A short spine version of Echinopsis peruviana / macrogona

This type of plant is usually treated as Trichocereus macrogonus / Echinopsis macrogonaa


Another one that is treated as Trichocereus macrogonus / Echinopsis macrogona.

Another one that is treated as Trichocereus macrogonus / Echinopsis macrogona.

 

Trichocereus peruvianus by Randy

T.peru Roseii1 Flower_2

T.peru Woolunda Flower_1

T.peru Woolunda Flower_2

T.peru Roseii2 flower

T.peru Roseii 1_1

This is one of Misplant´s mother plants. You can get some seed here!

trichocereus Peruvianus misplant Peru-3

Another one of Misplant´s mother plants. You can get it´s seed here!

trichocereus Peruvianus misplant Peru-4

trichocereus Peruvianus misplant-5

This is Backebergs Description:

Trichocereus peruvianus Br. &
R. — The Cact., II : 136. 1920
Cereus rosei 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.
zuerst braun, ca. 10, einige bis 4 cm
lang, stark und steif, 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 an der
Lima—Oroya-Bahn bis auf 2800 m)
(Abb. 1059—1060, Tafel 76).
Britton u. Rose bilden mit ihrer
Fig. 197 einen baumartig aufrechten
Cereus ab, Rauh dagegen einen
hängenden; ich selbst fand die Art
anfangs ± aufrecht, dann überliegend
bis niederliegend. Es kommen bei
Matucana aber auch Exemplare des
aufrechten T. santaensis vor, den
Britton u. Rose wohl nicht als besondere
Art erkannten.
Die Identifizierung dieser Art mit
Tr. macrogonus (Kkde., 20. 1941)
kann ich nicht aufrechterhalten.

And Friedrich Ritters:

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 liegt nur
eine Art vor. ROSE war jedenfalls ungenügend orientiert Über die große
Variationsbreite dieser 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. von wenigen 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
und fehlen 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. kann bei
beiden Formen bis auf etwa 10 gehen, die Anordnung der St. und das
Größenverhältnis zwischen Rst. zu Mst. 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. von ca 20 cm. Über dem Frkn. ist die Rö. leicht
nach oben gebogen, während die Öffnung der Rö. wieder leicht nach unten
gebogen ist. 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.

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