Maihueniopsis (2006)

PhotoBy Joe Robertson (November 2006)

Argentina is a land of grasslands that extend to all horizons. To the south is Patagonia, its flat plains swept by a constant wind that is known to have driven people mad. To the west are the Andes – their tall peaks separate Argentina and Chile. In the northwest, there is a mixture of lowlands, hot deserts, rain forests, salt deserts and high, cold deserts known as “altiplanos.”

Argentina is a country with a multitude of habitats, climates, ecologies and geographies. Just about every region is home to many cacti, including the maihueniopsis.

Maihueniopsis is one of several genera that have been split from Opuntia. The South American members of the Opuntioideae continue to be a challenge to taxonomists. There are 18 species, not all well understood, and further clarification is necessary.

The genus is characterized by specialized growth habits in which the plants usually form compact cushions with inconspicuously segmented stems, tuberous roots and areoles located in depressions.

I like these plants due to the fact that they are small and do not take up a lot of room in the greenhouse. The other reason is that since they are primitive plants, they are very easy to grow. One can find these plants under many genus names: Opuntia, Tephrocactus, Puna and of course Maihueniopsis.