Old Man of the Andes
Oreocereus celsianus (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) A.Berger ex Riccob. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Old Man of the Andes. It was named and first described as such by Alwin Berger and Vincenzo Riccobono in Bollettino delle R[eale] Orto Botanico di Palermo in 1909. It was first named Pilocereus celsianus Lem. ex Salm-Dyck by (Antoine) Charles Lemaire and Joseph Franz Maria Anton Hubert Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck (SERIOUSLY) in Cacteae in Horto Dyckensi Cultae in 1849.
The “ex” means the first author described the plant first but for some reason was not accepted. Then the last author published the name using the first author’s description in a different publication.
The genus, Oreocereus Riccob., was named and described by Vincenzo Riccobono in Bollettino delle R[eale] Orto Botanico di Palermo in 1909. Alwin Berger first described it as a subgenus of Cereus in Report (Annual) of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1905.
Plants of the World Online by Kew list 8 accepted species in the Oreocereus genus (as of 2/28/19 when I am updating this page).
Other former scientific names for this cactus using Pilocereus celsianus Lem. ex Salm-Dyck as the basionym:
Borzicactus celsianus (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) Kimnach-Named and described by Myron William Kimnach in Cactus and Succulent Journal in 1960.
Cereus celsianus (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) A.Berger-Named and described by Alwin Berger in the Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1905.
Cleistocactus celesianus (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) A.Weber-Named and described by Anton Weber in Bulletin Mensuel de la Societe Centrale d’Agriculture in 1904.
Echinopsis celsiana (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) Anceschi & Magli-Named and described by Giovanna Anceschi and Alberto Magli in Cactusinhabitat Booklet South America in 2013.
I bought this cactus from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016. It was approximately 5 1/2” tall x 2 1/4” wide and was in a 3” tall x 3 1/4” pot. It was leaning over so I put it in a larger pot and straightened it up. I put it in a larger pot because of its height and it would fall over easily in a smaller one. Shortly after that, it died…
The pot just had a generic tag with it with no name. I did some research and I thought it could have been a Cephalocereus senilis which is the Old Man Cactus. I wasn’t 100% sure because most of the photos online of the Old Man’s Cactus don’t look like this plant. Some photos of the Micranthocereus polyanthus also resembled my plant…
As I was working on this page, I decided to send a photo to Daiv Freeman of the CactusGuide.com and the SucculentGuide.com. A few days later he sent the name Oreocereus celsianus. I think he nailed it.
Origin: Bolivia and Peru
Zones: USDA Zones 8a-10b (10-35° F)
Size: Can grow up to 9 feet or more, but usually less.
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Fast-draining soil, potting soil amended with extra grit and perlite.
Water: It’s a cactus… Average water in summer, very little in winter.
Flowers: Pink/magenta in spring-summer.
On March 19, 2018, I found another Oreocereus celsianus at Wal-Mart. Of course, I had to rescue it along with five other plants. This plant measured about 3 1/2″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide (without the fuzz and thorns) and is in a 3 1/4″ diameter x 3″ tall pot. They were all soaking wet and of course it had the “strawflower” hot-glued to the top. Hopefully, this one will survive and flower someday. I will keep adding more photos as time goes by.
It did very well for a while…
Then it slowly started dying… What is it with this species? Will I give up? Of course not. 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.