The Old Lady

white fleece

Neither the silver hairs of my head nor the tuft of fur of my house pet, this white fleece belongs to my cactus Espostoa lanata. This no-fuss ornamental plant is named after the botanist Nicolas E. Esposto and is commonly known as ‘the old lady’. Sometimes it is called as ‘the old Peruvian man’ because its original habitat is the Andes of Peru. I thought to write about it today because it attracted my new plant collector-friends yesterday.

columnar cactus

Since I planted my Espostoa in the 1990’s, it flourished into several columns. Presently, each stems is about 5 cm in diameter with 20 ribs.Oftentimes, those ribs are hidden with short spines and long bristles. The spines are mostly thin and yellowish in color and the hairy covering is, in this specimen, whitish. When fully developed, the stems divide into several nodes (see the photo above.) This specimen would have reached its full growth if I planted it on the ground but due to lack of space, I planted it on a medium-sized pot.

matured stems

They say that this species rarely flourish with too much TLC (tender, loving, care). In other words, once you plant it just let mother nature nurture it. Keeping this in mind, I planted it in a pot filled with loamy soil mixed with coarse sand. Then, I put the potted plant in an open area where it is fully exposed to sun and slightly exposed to rain. Too much rain could cause its rotting.

I don’t have photos of its flowers because my ‘old lady’ hasn’t produced any yet. All I know is that its night flowering blooms are whitish-green about 5 cm across.


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