Copiapoa laui

Copiapoa laui Copiapoa laui
Date: 2003 September 9

This tiny Copiapoa was only described in 1980. It remained undiscovered for so long because the plants form near-invisible mats not far from the coast, near Esmeralda in Chile. The largest head in the photo is 28mm in diameter, which is probably larger than they ever grow in habitat. The plant has large tuberous roots beneath the clumps.

I have twice seen the plants in habitat, and on neither occasion were any flowers present, so I was particularly pleased when this small cultivated specimen, which I have grown for quite a number of years, finally produced its first ever flowers.

Some people say that it flowers in Spring in greenhouse collections in the UK, but this specimen waited until the Autumn, flowering in September when the weather started to cool after an extremely dry and hot August. Does anyone know when they flower in Chile?

In cultivation, the plants seem prone to damage by red spider mite, and I have often seen specimens whose epidermis has been completely destroyed. Fortunately my specimen hasn't suffered this for several years.

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Author: Clarke Brunt (
Last modified: 13th September 2003