“Absolutely beautiful candelabra” in reference to the typical aspect of the genus.
A genus of usually treelike, sometimes shrubby plants, with a slow growth rate, densely branched, often with a defined trunk. Stems erect, ascending or prostrate, often sturdy, 9-16 ribs. Large areoles, often woolly or hairy. Spines usually long, sturdy and flexible.
Flowers diurnal, self-sterile, remaining open at night (probably to increase the chances of fertilization by diversifying pollinators), appearing near the apex, bell-shaped or funnel-shaped, white, with a very short, scaly floral tube, covered with bristles of hairs or wool, pollinated by hymenoptera (Alloscirtetica lanosa, Centris nigerrima, Colletes araucariae, Corynura chloris, Caenohalictus pupurisus, Leioproctus bathycyaneus, L. rufiventris, L. semicyaneus, Neofideiia profuga, Spinolieila herbsti, S. rozeni, Trichothurgus dubius), more rarely by diptera (Dischistus transatlanticus) or hummingbirds (Rhodopsis vesper). Fruits globose to turbiniform, fleshy, scaly, hairy or densely woolly, but rarely spiny, with white, juicy and acid pulp. Seeds matt, grey or black, rough to warty, keeping the remnants of the mucilage, scattered by chinchillas (Chinchilla brevicaudata, C. chinchilla, the latter regrettably extinct).
The genus Eulychnia grows endemically in extremely dry regions of the northern Atacama desert in Chile, near the Pacific coast, from sea level (E. castanea), where it takes advantage of the humidity of coastal fog (camanchaca), and in the mountainous dry valleys, on rocky reliefs, clastic rocky or sandy soils, up to approximately 1200 m in altitude (E. iquiquensis). Some populations are in great danger of extinction, for no apparent reason, but probably due to climatic change. Usually, birds eat fruits and scatter seeds, but there is no regeneration, and as far as we have observed, no young plants are found.
Chile (Antofagasta, Arica, Atacama, Coquimbo, Tarapaca), Peru (Arequipa, Moquegua, Tacna).
Currently 8 species to debate:
– Eulychnia acida Phil. 1864
– Eulychnia breviflora* Phil, i8 6 0
– Eulychnia castanea* Phil, i8 6 0
– Eulychnia chorosensis (ex E. acido var. procumbens) P.KIassen 2011
– Eulychnia iquiquensis* (K.Schum.) Britton & Rose 1920
– Eulychnia ritteri Cullman 1958
– Eulychnia saint-pieana F.Ritter 1964
– Eulychnia taltalensis (F. Ritter) Hoxey 2011 (doubtful taxon = ex E. breviflora var. taltalensis)