Her Majesty the Copiapoa: a series of exclusive photos enhances the beauty of this extraordinary cactus


The gray stem, the black thorns, the compact and perfect shape in its “simplicity” make the Copiapoa, in particular of the species of the cinerea group, a real masterpiece of Nature. Among cactus enthusiasts these plants represent a real jewel, to the point that, unfortunately, around and to the detriment of the Copiapoa a black market has been created for years that moves millions of dollars all over the world. A market that involves the extirpation of specimens in habitat – in spite of the laws for the protection of the species – subsequently destined for illicit trafficking, with serious damage to the environment and for the entire Copiapoa genus. More reason, when buying a specimen of this cacti it is essential to rely on specialized nurserymen, avoid online auctions and, above all, observe the plant carefully. The expert eye almost always knows how to distinguish the specimen grown from seed and the one taken from the wild.

And if it is true that the Copiapoa grown in their habitat have colors and thorns capable of fascinating even those who are not fond of cacti, it is equally true that with correct cultivation even specimens obtained from seeds can become splendid and incredibly attractive plants. Just to enhance the beauty of the stems and thorns of these plants, I have elaborated some photos of my specimens, cutting them out and making them stand out against a black background. The results are exceptional, as shown in the gallery contained in the following article. (…).

I won’t dwell here on the correct cultivation of the Copiapoa, since you can get very detailed information at this link, where you can find the cultivation sheets of the various kinds of cacti. Suffice it to recall here that the specimens of the cinerea species have the particularity of producing a gray wax to protect the stem, with the primary function of limiting transpiration and helping the plants to bear long periods of drought. And if it is true that it is above all in their habitat that these plants produce large quantities of wax, it is equally true that with targeted cultivation and good experience it is possible to obtain excellent results even in “captivity”.

Also for this reason, the illicit trafficking of these plants – as well as criminal – is senseless, also considering that a specimen extirpated from its habitat has little chance of surviving for long once it enters a private collection, perhaps on the other side of the world (the Copiapoa are native to Chile). With regard to an important operation to combat the clandestine trade of these plants, you can read the article I wrote some time ago on the Atacama operation, which saw Italy as a protagonist, for better or for worse. Find the article at this link in the italian versio of the website (you can translate it with the internal translator).

The purpose of this brief article is rather to show the Copiapoa in all their splendour, highlighting their strengths, i.e. shape, color of the stem and thorns. This explains the choice of “isolating” (ie “cutting out”) the photos of some of my specimens and placing the image on a black background.

Let the photos do the talking: click on the image to enlarge it.

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