|First collected by Leopold Horst in 1962 in Brazil and formally described by Frank Ritter as Eriocactus magnificus in 1966, this wonderful species has only been known to science for just over 50 years! I can vividly remember the impact of seeing this species for the first time in the late 1970s as its gaudy coloring and neat appearance made a big splash with Adelaide's cacti collectors.|
The body of the plant can vary in colour from a light matte green to a fairly startling aqua blue, depending on the amount of wax produced by the plant's epidermis. On top of this, the spine colour can range from a crystalline white right through to a deep and glowing yellow. Most plants of this species remain solitary until after they begin to flower and then they frequently develop offsets at the base of the main stem or partway up the sides. The flower is a glorious shining pale yellow and varies in size from about 3cm to 6cm in diameter.
The species seems to be reasonably hardy in an outdoor location and does quite well in the ground as long as adequate drainage is provided. It has been reported to cope with low temperatures down to -4C, though it would have to be kept completely dry at these temperatures. In my care the plant has coped with all the wet winter days of the last few years and it has coped perfectly well the heatwaves of recent summers with minimal sun protection. The Adelaide Botanic Garden has a very nice group of mature plants in the outdoor rockery of the Victorian Palm House which flower from December to March each Summer. If you have internet access there are good photos of many different clones of this species at: [[email protected]]
My particular plant was acquired as a 2 or 3 year old plant sometime in 2004, when I was just getting back into collecting Cacti after a long break from the hobby. It began to flower in December 2008 and at that time the flower almost concealed the entire diameter of the plant, so the flowers on this plant are at the larger end of the scale for this species. This plant remained solitary right up until about 18 months ago so the offsets you can see on it now are a relatively new development which means that the plant will be getting a new wider pot as soon as the weather warms up in the Spring.
The species has been through several name changes, first to Notocactus magnificus in 1980, then to Parodia magnifica in 1982; there was even a proposal in 2012 to resurrect Backeburg's original 1938 suggestion to call the genus Eriocephala, thus making this plant Eriocephala magnifica although I find this somewhat unnecessary as Backeberg himself rejected Eriocephala for Eriocactus after discovering the earlier name had been used for a genus from the Asteraceae back in the 1930s. Personally, I prefer to retain the name Eriocactus magnificus, as I feel the genus Eriocactus is a tight knit group of species well recognized for both their similarities to each other and their overall difference from the rest of the Parodia/Notocactus species.