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Candelabra Cactus - 1st TN posting

Candelabra Cactus - 1st TN posting
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-01-04
Categories: Desert, Cacti, Mountain
Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds MkII, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Exposure: f/8, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 2, The Wildlife, Plants and Scenery of Chile [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-10-04 7:38
Viewed: 7280
Points: 30
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This cacti is one of the things I wanted to see on my trip to Chile. It grows high up in the Andea and is height, aspect and precipitation specifc. There are no perfect specimens - the bitterly cold nights mean that they all have some frost damage - this is quite a good specimen - about 3M high.

NB There is another TN posting - but that is a species of euphorbia, not a true cactus.

This most individual of cereoid cacti was first described as Cereus candelaris by Franz Meyen (a Prussian physician and botanist who visited Peru and Bolivia in 1831) in Allg Gartenz. 1:211 (1833). The specific name aptly describes the unusual shape of the plant with its single upright, spiny trunk crowned with a head of ascending or drooping branches which are almost spineless. In Volume II of The Cactaceae (1920), Britton and Rose erected their new genus Browningia for this one species, naming it in honour of W E. Browning, a former director of the Instituto Ingles at Santiago, Chile.

When the plants are immature they consist of a very spiny unbranched column with spines up to 15cm long, unless damaged, when branching can occur. They retain this form until they reach a height of 2 to 3 metres when the spines on the new growth diminish or almost disappear and the plant begins to branch. Only these nearly spineless branches are capable of producing the white nocturnal flowers which are followed by fruits with unusual, thin, fleshy scales. Flowers are never produced from the spiny trunk; they can appear on young arms, but only a few at a time. They are up to 12cm long and, although nocturnal, are said to have no perfume, so I find it difficult to speculate about what the pollinator might be. The total height can eventually reach 6 metres in favourable locations but usually it is much less. Even on fully mature specimens new spines continue to grow on the woody trunk, which consequently becomes ever more spiny, presumably as protection against predation.

The habitat range of this species is extensive, from near Lima in the north to at least as far south as the valley of Chusmisa in Chile, some 1,300km away. They occur between about 2,000 and 2,800m in the dry valleys on the west of the Andes, the precise altitude depending on local conditions. This is approximately the lower limit to which the summer rains penetrate from the east, although sometimes many years can pass without my rain filling on these drought- adapted plants. For some reason, perhaps local climatic conditions, they do not occur in every valley in this distribution range. Individuals never grow in dense stands, and are normally seen as isolated specimens growing some distance apart. They appear to favour the lower slopes of steep sided valleys or the bottoms of main valleys where water will occasionally run, but they are also often seen silhouetted against the sky on the top of mountain ridges. Relatively young examples less than 1 metre high are probably a few decades old. To maintain a population only a few seeds need to find a suitable place to germinate, but it has to be a year during which the climate permits the seedling to get to a size sufficient to survive the next dry period. The range of ages of the plants in most localities suggested to me that there were enough younger ones to keep the overall numbers stable. Other cacti can be found growing with Browningia candelaris. Armatocereus, Arequipa, Corryocactus, Loxanthocereus, Haageocereus and Tephrocactus all grow with Browningia it just depends which valley you are looking in. The overall appearance of their surroundings is one of extreme aridity with little sign of life other than the cacti, which themselves often look stressed by drought.

roges, bahadir, zulfu, nglen, marianas, oanaotilia, goldyrs, anel, matatur, jaycee, boreocypriensis, Pitoncle has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • roges Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 957 W: 0 N: 1329] (6264)
  • [2009-10-04 7:39]

Hi James,

Splendid image. Splendid colors.
I have also seen species of cactus.
Have a pleasant day,

Hello James, excellent shot of this strange cactus.
Details and colours are splendid.
TFS and regards, Bahadır

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2009-10-04 8:32]

Hello James,
Congratulations with this unique photo for TN. Great photo of this cactus in very beautiful well saturated colours. Sharpness and details are superb. Very good composition and POV.

  • Great 
  • zulfu Gold Star Critiquer [C: 685 W: 0 N: 2] (43)
  • [2009-10-04 8:40]

Hello james, a very impressive presentation of a wild cactus.
Your notes are always informative like this.
TFS and R's,

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2009-10-04 9:01]

Hi James. Congrats on a first on TN with this unusual cactus. It looks like omthing from another planet. As you say in your notes nothing else of life around in the harsh conditions. Good detail and natural colours make the plant stand out from the blue sky. well done TFS.

Wonderful capture, I think very rare, lovely details and colors.

Hi James.
Very interesting document of this nice species. Excellent POV.
TFS. Regards.

Hello James,
Excellent capture, with beautiful colors. Very strange species. TFS,

A superb shot, James.
Almost romantic in its solitary state!

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2009-10-05 5:28]

Hello James,
I like your location "miles from anywhere":-). Very interesting Cactus-species with this special shape, looks really like a candelabra. Until now I never had seen this species and I understand why..
Most interesting posting.
Kind regards

Thank you for this expertly captured image of a unique cactus and for the detailed illuminative notes James, now I really have some concrete information about this not-well-known floral element, TFS it indeed!

amazing natural sculpture, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2009-10-05 17:06]

Hi James,

Congratulations on this first on TN. It's the first time I have seen this cactus - and we have lots of cacti in Arizona. The name is perfect. Very strange looking and you show it off beautifully with excellent colors and details. The blue sky is a perfect background.


Sorry Brother i missed this one:(.
Another excellent presentation of a cactus species which is also novelty for me. Great scene and notes -as usual.
TFS and cheers,


Bonjour James,
Remarquable présentation du sujet dans son environnement avec une très belle opposition sur le ciel bleu valorisant bien la finesse des détails et la délicatesse des couleurs ; merci pour le partage.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

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