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History, description, cultivation, soil, sun exposure, care, informations and curiosity about genus Matucana.

by: Divisione divulgazione15/01/2013

The genus Matucana belongs to the family of Cactaceae and is a native of Peru, particularly of the Andean city of Matucana, from which it takes its name. The genus includes about 20 species currently spread throughout South America. The plants grow in the highlands of the Andes at above 2500 m of altitude; some specimens of M. haynei and M. yanganucensis were found respectively at 3200 m to 4000 m of altitude. Sturdy, robust, the Matucana are quite popular among collectors for its ease of cultivation.

A bit of history

The genus Matucana was created in 1920 by Britton & Rose. Initially, they only recognized the species M. haynei (also called Echinocactus haynei). Most of these cacti were later discovered in the 50s by Rauh and Ritter and partially reclassified from Backeberg, who formed the subgenus Submatucana: oblong form plants, with greater coverage of spines and less resistant to cold and summer rains. Because of morphological and genetic characteristics affinity, this genus is now divided for simplicity into 4 subspecies: Paucicostata, Intertexta, Aurantiaca and Haynei, the oldest group.


The genus Matucana is characterized by bright green plants, sized small and medium, both globular and cylindrical, with numerous ribs segmented into dense spines and tubercles. The bloom is apical and flowers, usually appearing in late spring or summer, are elongated and tubular; they hatch at night and lasts from 2 to 4 days, offering a wide variety of colors, from white to red, yellow and bright orange.


All species are sensitive to moisture: watering should therefore be limited to the growing season and should be made only when the substrate is completely dry. It must be suspended during the winter. Since they tend to lose their roots in cold and wet, these plants must be kept warm even in winter: a temperature not under 10°C is suitable. Some species, for natural adaptation, can restist at temperatures below 0°C (eg M. haynei -4°C, M. yanganucensis -6°C). Propagation is easy by seed (see the germination rate of our seeds), sowing should preferably be done in the spring. If the plants are in the vegetative stage and optimal environmental conditions (a low moisture content with substantial temperature swing between day and night is appreciated), the growth is quite fast and you can get blooms already after 2-3 years after birth; in these cases the plant can reach adult height of a few tens of cm.


The Matucana must be grown in a very porous and draining soil. It can be composed largely by sand, lapilli and gravel. To encourage the development of a dense network of spine, the quality of the nutrients in the substrate is very important: the soil must be rich in potassium, poor in nitrogen. Since the roots are very delicate and subject to rot, the soil should be kept as dry as possible: do not forget that in their natural environment these plants grow in steep and inaccessible places.

Sun exposure

The Matucana like dry, fresh and light air. A direct exposure to sunlight is appropriated, but too high temperatures (above 30-32°C), very different from those of their original environment, may damage them. In these cases it is best to filter the sun's rays or prefer a bright area anyway, but at least partially shaded.


Matucana aureiflora Matucana madisoniorumMatucana






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