Cactus (Cipocereus laniflorus)

Cipocereus laniflorus plant with several columns
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Cactus fact file

Cactus description

GenusCipocereus (1)

This columnar, olive-green plants may reach up to 2 metres in height (2). The cylindrical columns are woody and upright, with 5 - 7 triangular ribs (2). Numerous cushion-like structures from which spines grow, known as areoles line each rib; they have a light brown to black covering of felt, with longer white or yellow hairs, and brown to reddish spines also originating from these points. At the tip of each column, the areoles become very dense so that there is a distinctive hairy covering (2). The woolly flower buds stand out against the green cactus with their dark blue coat, reddish spines and white hairs. When open, the white or pale cream petals are visible (2). Oval fruits then develop; the ribbed outer coat is also a dark purplish-blue, marked with areoles supporting spines and woolly tufts (2).

Height: up to 2 m (2)

Cactus biology

This cactus flowers between May and August, and fruits appear from July to September (2). It is assumed that bats are the principal pollinators (4).


Cactus range

Endemic to the state of Minas Gerais in eastern Brazil, a single population of around 320 individuals was recorded in 2002 from the Serra do Caraca area (2).


Cactus habitat

Inhabits rocky outcrops amongst the dry upland vegetation of the East Brazilian Highlands, known as campo rupestre (2). This species is always found with the aroid plant Philodendron cipoense, and is more abundant at altitudes of between 1,000 and 1,400 metres, although marginal populations persist up to 1,500 metres above sea level (1).


Cactus status

Classified as Endangered (EN - D) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Cactus threats

This species is threatened by the small size and area of its population; a survey in 2002 recorded as few as 321 individual plants, comprising 8 subpopulations within an area that encompasses less than 10 km² (2). Cipocereus laniflorus is therefore vulnerable to any chance event that may threaten this single population (2).


Cactus conservation

This species is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3), which requires an export permit for trade in wild-taken plants and thus discourages the unsustainable collection of this vulnerable species. The single population of Cipocereus laniflorus occurs entirely within the protected Reserva Particular de Patrimonio Natural do Caraca (2). Collecting within the park is strictly by permission only; furthermore, just a small number of plants are visible from footpaths within the park. It appears that, at least at present, the small population of this plants is safe from extinction (2).


Find out more

For more on Brazilian cacti see:
Taylor, N.P. & Zappi, D.C. (in press) Cacti of Eastern Brazil. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew



Authenticated (March, 2003) by Dr Nigel Taylor, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.



In cacti, the felted or woolly, cushion-like structures from which spines grow, flowers develop and new stems arise.
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.


  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2003)
  2. Taylor, N.P. & Zappi, D.C. (in press) Cacti of Eastern Brazil. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. CITES (February, 2003)
  4. Taylor, N. (March, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.

Image credit

Cipocereus laniflorus plant with several columns  
Cipocereus laniflorus plant with several columns

© Nigel P. Taylor / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197


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