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OREOCEREUS celsianus

Image of Oreocereus celsianus

John Rickard

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

OREOCEREUS celsianus

Plant Common Name

Old-Man-of-the-Andes

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Old Man of the Andes is a striking cylindrical cactus due to its coat of dirty blond coarse hairs that covers its entire length. These hairs help protect and shade its green skin from both intense high altitude sunlight and the occasional cold snap. The species is native to Bolivia, Peru and northern Argentina where it is found on rocky cliffs at high elevations of the Andes and other mountain ranges. In cultivation it is rare to see more than a single stem, but in the wild these cacti will branch at the base for multiple heads. The column is divided into 10 to 25 ribs, each rib featuring closely spaced tubercles.

Each tubercle is composed of a slightly raised areole from which grow spines, hairs and flowers. This cactus is a spring bloomer, producing flowers only at the top of the plant. Each rosy bud sits atop a thick hairy stem about the size of a man’s little finger. These face upward to receive hummingbirds and other insect pollinators. Small round fruits may become reddish with maturity, then drop off cleanly.

This cactus is well armed. Spines are stout, thick, and dirty yellow to reddish brown in color. They occur in groups from one to four heavier spines surrounded by 7 to 9 very sharp radial spines. These sit nestled deeply into the hairy cloak. Like most other cacti, this plant grows well in pots provided soils are lean, porous and well drained. Choose a wide but shallow pot with a large drain hole to accommodate the surface feeder roots and reduce the chance of root rot. This old man will thrive as a windowsill plant and slow growth keeps its size manageable for a long time.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    13 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    3'-10' / 0.9m - 3.0m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Very Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Narrow Upright/Fastigiate

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Rose

  • Fruit Color

    Rose

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No