Lobivia (2007)

By Chris Deem (April 2007)

From what primordial myth did such a creature first appear? A horrifying, scaly creature with wings, breathing fire. Its eyes red, its blood boiling mercury and sulfur, bringing death and destruction. A dragon.

I wonder if its discoverer had such thoughts when first he saw a Lobivia cinnabarina. Its dark-green body and curving spines, its blood-red flowers could, in a moment’s fancy, inspire such a thought.

Bold, dramatic colors on day-blooming flowers are the hallmark of Lobivia cacti. Though most are found in Bolivia, they also grow in Argentina and Peru. Most species are globular and elongated, but with lobivias, there are no certain rules.

Now to confuse the story, I must mention the genera of Trichocereus and Echinopsis. With Lobivia, this triumvirate of closely related cacti shares many traits, the most noteworthy being their flowers’ similarities. All three genera have buds that are woolly and scaly, and when open have prominent throat stamens. Lobivia flowers are slightly different in that their flower tubes are shorter than those of Echinopsis or Trichocereus, and they always bloom in daylight.

Lobivias are hardy cacti that thrive in sunny locations with fresh air in the growing season. In winter, keep them very cool and mostly dry. One source said to keep lobivias at between 39 and 46 degrees F in the winter for best flower production.