“Woolly head”, referring to the abundant wool at the top of the species in this genus.
A genus of plants becoming massive and columnar with age, with heliotropic apex, typically inclined, densely woolly. Ribs well defined, usually many, areoles close each other. Spines not hooked, usually fine, flexible and numerous.
Flowers diurnal, widely funnel-shaped to bell-shaped, with floral tube covered with brown or pale yellow wool, with stigmas of the pistil always yellow (almost always red in Notocactus s.s.), usually pollinated by hymenoptera. Fruits spherical, densely covered with wool and with bristles, basally dehiscent when dry, releasing seeds freely. Seeds very small and numerous, narrowly conical, more or less helmet or hat-shaped, finely warty and striate, reddish brown to black. Dispersion of seeds assured by ants.
The genus Eriocephala grows in humid subtropical deciduous forests, or among bushes, on slopes of rocky hills, steep cliffs, precipices, on granitic, basaltic or sandstone rocks, near rivers, from 500 up to 2200 m in altitude, withstanding regular rainfall during the austral summer (1000 mm) and a wintry aridity. The species of this genus have a strong tendency to heliotropism. They grow together with Brassavola, Cyrtopodium, Dyckia, Peperomia, Tillandsia, and other Cactaceae like Brasiliopuntia, Cereus, Cleistocactus, Monvillea, Opuntia, Selenicereus etc. The soil is loamy and well drained. The presence of lichens denotes a strong atmospheric humidity, and the annual temperature ranges between +8 and 35°C.
Argentina (Misiones), Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Paraguay (Cordillera, Guaira, Misiones, Paraguari), Uruguay.
Currently 6 recognised species:
– Eriocephala claviceps (F. Ritter) J.Lode 2013
– Eriocephala lenninghausii* (K.Schum.) Backeberg ex Heinrich 1940
– Eriocephala magnifica* (F.Ritter) Guiggi 2012
– Eriocephala nigrispina (K. Schumann) J.Lode 2013
– Eriocephala schumanniana* (Nicolai) Guiggi 2012 (= E. grossei)
– Eriocephala warasii (F.Ritter) Guiggi 2012
References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" - ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)