One of the most striking cacti to be seen along the coast of Peru is Neoraimondia arequipensis. Likewise, the other species of the genus, N. herzogiana, is an even larger, more dominant plant in central Bolivia. The nomenclatural history of N. arequipensis is somewhat complicated. The plant was described by Karl Schumann in 1903 as Pilocereus macrostibas. Nathaniel Britton and Joseph Rose, describing the genus Neoraimondia, chose P. macrostibas as the type, but Curt Backeberg (1958-1962,2:874) correctly showed that it is the same as the previously described Cereus arequipensis. Therefore, the correct name for the cactus is N. arequipensis. Neoraimondia was named for the Italian naturalist Antonio Rai-mondi, who lived in Peru and extensively studied its flora and geography, prefixed neo, new, because Raimondia had been used previously for a plant in the family Annonaceae.
Neoraimondia herzogiana has a very different botanical history, for it was not described until 1949 even though it is one of the dominant cacti in central Bolivia and photographs had been made of it as early as 1909. Martin Cárdenas sent detailed descriptions and pictures of the cactus to Backeberg, who described it as Neocardenasia herzogiana. Subsequent studies by James Mauseth and Roberto Kiesling (1997) have shown that it is a Neoraimondia.
One of the most remarkable features of Neoraimondia is that the erect stems bear numerous heavily felted, rounded or cylindrical short shoots that continue to grow and from which flowers are produced for many years. Flowers are open during the day in January and February.
Neoraimondia Britton & Rose 1920 Neocardenasia Backeberg 1949
Subfamily Cactoideae, tribe Browningieae. Plants large, branched, shrubby to treelike and candelabra-like, to 15 m (49 ft) high. Stems erect, ribbed, usually gray-green, to 40 cm (16 in) in diameter. Ribs 4-8, widely separated. Areoles peglike short shoots, large, round to elongate, brown felted, spiny, continuing to grow for many years. Spines as many as 12 or more, flexible, to 25 cm (9.8 in) long. Flowers borne from the elongate short shoots, open during the day, fun-nelform, pink or off-white; pericarpels and floral tu bes bearingscales and felted areoles, sometimes with bristles. Fruits round, with brown-felted areoles bearingshort spines. Seeds black, finely pitted, with a mucilage sheath. Distribution: arid regions along the Peruvian coast and in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia.
Neoraimondia arequipensis (Meyen) Backeberg 1936
BIG BED OF STRAW
Pilocereus macrostibas K. Schumann 1903, Cereus macrostibas (K. Schumann) A. Berger 1905, Neoraimondia macrostibas (K. Schumann) Britton & Rose 1920 Cereus macrostibas var. gigantea Werdermann & Backeberg 1931, Neoraimondia macrostibas var. gigantea (Werdermann & Backeberg) Backeberg & F. M. Knuth 1935, N. gigantea (Werdermann & Backeberg) Backeberg 1942, N. arequipensis var. gigantea (Werdermann & Backeberg) F. Ritter 1958
Neoraimondia arequipensis subsp. arequipensis, also illustrated on page 30
Cereus macrostibas var. roseiflora Werdermann & Backeberg 1931, Neoraimondia macrostibas var. roseiflora (Werdermann & Backeberg) Backeberg 1935, N. roseiflora (Werdermann & Backeberg) Backeberg 1942, N. arequipensis var. roseiflora (Werdermann & Backeberg) Rauh 1979, N. arequipensis subsp. roseiflora (Werdermann & Backeberg) Ostolaza 1998 Neoraimondia aticensis Rauh & Backeberg 1956, N. arequipensis var.
aticensis (Rauh & Backeberg) Rauh & Backeberg 1958 Neoraimondia arequipensis var. rhodantha Rauh & Backeberg 1957
Neoraimondia arequipensis var. riomajensis Rauh & Backeberg 1957 Neoraimondia gigantea var. saniensis Rauh & Backeberg 1957 Neoraimondia peruviana F. Ritter 1981
Plants large, shrubby, branching basally, trunks absent. Stems massive, erect, to 10 m (33 ft) high and 40 cm (16 in) in diameter. Ribs 5-8, bearing prominent peglike areoles to 5 cm (2 in) long. Spines variable in number, as many as 7, some to 25 cm (9.8 in) long. Flowers greenish white to pinkish red, to 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter; pericarpels with short hairs and occasionally inconspicuous spines. Fruits round, purple, to 7 cm (2.8 in) in diameter, with brownish feltlike areoles with short spines. Distribution: coastal and lower Andean Peru.
The reported ceremonial use of Neoraimondia arequipensis is mentioned in Chapter 2, under Cacti as Medicine, and in ancient Peru fishhooks and weaving combs were made from its spines (under Other Uses of Cacti). The species is extremely variable. Six varieties have been described, differing in height, habit, and flower color, but the intergradation of forms as well as a more or less continuous distribution of the species suggest that these varieties need not be recognized. Two subspecies, however, are recognized. Subspecies arequipensis usually has 8 ribs and greenish white flowers; it occurs south of Mollendo. Subspecies roseiflora has mostly 5 ribs and light pinkish red flowers; it occurs near Chosica and in the Pisco Valley.
Neoraimondia herzogiana (Backeberg) Buxbaum 1967
Plants large, shrubby or treelike, candelabra-like, to 15 m (49 ft) high with well-defined trunks. Stems erect, 15-20 cm (5.9-7.9 in) in diameter. Ribs 6-7, bearing prominent peglike areoles. Central spines 3-5,6-10 cm (2.4-3.9 in) long. Radial spines 7-10,1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) long. Flowers dirty rose white, 6-7.5 cm (2.4-3 in) long, 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) in diameter; pericarpels with short, bristle-like tufts of spines. Fruits ovoid, spiny, yellowish brown, 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) long, 5 cm (2 in) in diameter; perianth parts persistent. Distribution: open cactus forests of central Bolivia at elevations of 1500-2000 m (4900-6600 ft). Fruits of Neoraimondia herzogiana are sweet and delicious.
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