Autor: (Philippi ex F.A.C. Weber) Schumann
Genus derived from the indigenous Mapuche word “Maihuen” which means woman, and which is also given to this plant.
A genus of low-growing plants, forming compact cushions, reaching several metres in diameter. Stems individual, segmented or not, with a long taproot (up to 40 cm long). Leaves conical to linear, persistent. Areoles rather small and numerous, with silky hairs. Central spine sometimes absent, more or less flattened; two radial spines, inconspicuous.
Flowers diurnal, self-sterile, terminal, solitary, opening widely, yellow or white, pollinated by hymenoptera. Fruits obovate to davate, with fleshy bracts, without pulp. Seeds almost circular, shiny, black, smooth to slightly tuberculate, streaked on the margins.
The genus Maihuenia grows in a very wide geographic area, commonly in open arid places, with a typical growth habit of very large and flattened cushions, usually on volcanic soils, from sea level up to the limit (variable) of permanent snow cover in the Andes, that is approximately 4800 m in altitude.
Argentina (Chubut, Mendoza, Neuquen, Rio Negro, Santa Cruz), Chile (Bio-Bio, La Araucania, Maule).
Currently 2 recognised species:
– Maihuenia patagуnica* (Phil.) Speg. 1919
– Maihuenia poeppigii* (Otto ex Pfeiffer) Phil, ex K.Schum. 1898