Matucana

When young and not in flower Matucana auranliaca is unremarkable in appearance and for this reason is often not sold on a commercial scale. However, when it does flower it is most rewarding. It is a native of Peru and the Latin name - Matucana - is in fact the name of the town on the cliffs beside which the species was first discovered. The plant is similar to the Malacocarpus species illustrated on this page in size and growth habits, being generally rather slow and seldom flowering before it is five years old or more and has attained a diameter of nearly 3 in (8 cm). The spines consist of about ten radials and up to three longer central spines which are considerably more prominent at the base of the plant and round the sides than on the top - the centre of which appears to be almost unarmed. It is a late flpwerer like malacocarpus and flowers may only appear in September in Britain. When they are produced they are orange and seldom open fully, being more tubular in appearance than daisy like.

Both M. auranliaca and the original species M. haynei. which is far more densely surrounded with spines and has reddish flowers, prefer an open compost with plenty of sand for drainage and a minimum temperature of about 4°C (40'F) in the winter. Since neither appears to form clumps propagation is best carried out by means of seed which germinates readily, although, of course, two plants are required to produce

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