Echinopsis is the scientific name for a large genus of cacti. I have one small plant in a pot by my swimming pool, which I hardly ever paid attention to until a few months ago, when suddenly I noticed that it had sprouted some rather pretty little flowers. Sadly, the flowers didn’t last very long. But my curiosity was piqued enough for me to search on Google for more information about my little cactus and its relations.
Cactus flowers are really beautiful, is my conclusion. Here are some of my favourites, from Google Images.
I also found someone online who is obsessed by Echinopsis, to the extent that he calls himself “Echinopsisfreak”. His name is Greg Krehel and you can read all about his obsession with Echinopsis on his blog here. Be sure to click on his time-lapse videos there showing his Echinopsis plants blooming. They are truly spectacular!
I feel a new addiction beginning…
Greg Krehel is also the man behind the site dedicated to Echinopsis, http://www.echinopsis.com. Below is an excerpt from that site:
What’s an Echinopsis? A type of cactus originally from South America that features amazing flowers … amazing in at least four ways:
– The flowers of most Echinopsis varieties are incredibly colorful … often featuring two or more hues working in harmony.
– The flowers are often giant … 5″-6″ in diameter … and frequently dwarf the cactus that grows them.
– They frequently appear in flushes of multiple flowers opening at the same time.
– Most types of cacti produce just one flush of flowers each year. But Echinopsis can produce flush after flush of flower for as long as the daytime temperatures remain above 70F/21C.
Echinopsis is pronounced Ech … in … op … sis. But where does the name come from? Once you understand the its Latin roots, you’ll discover the name makes great sense.
“Echin” comes from the Latin word “Ekihnos,” which meant both sea urchin and hedgehog. (Yes, it does seem like Latin speakers way back when might have come up with distinct words for these two pretty different creatures, but apparently they did not).
The “opsis” at the end of Echinopsis is another Latin word, one which means “resembling” or “appearance.”
So Echinopsis means hedgehog resembling or sea urchin appearance. A very accurate description for this genus of cacti that are often ball shaped growing to about 6” in diameter and, yep, covered with hedgehog-like and sea urchin-esq thorns.
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