Copiapoa gigantea Backeb.

First published in Jahrb. Deutsch. Kakteen-Ges. 1: 104 (1936)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is Chile (Antofagasta to N. Atacama). It is a succulent subshrub and grows primarily in the desert or dry shrubland biome.


Larridon, I. et al. (2018). Investigating taxon boundaries and extinction risk in endemic Chilean cacti (Copiapoa subsection Cinerei, Cactaceae) using chloroplast DNA sequences, microsatellite data and 3D mapping. Kew Bulletin 73: 55.

Morphology General Habit
Plants branching basally and laterally, forming huge mounds up to 2 m diam. and 1 m high; stems elongated cylindrical, up to 25 cm diam., epidermis pale grey-green to grey, ± pruinose; apical wool orange-brown
Morphology Roots
Roots fascicular
Morphology General
Ribs broad, up to c. 40, tuberculate, notched below areoles
Morphology General Areoles
Areoles large, c. 1 cm, round-oval, up to 2 cm apart
Morphology General Spines
Spines all nearly equally long, 2 – 4 cm, thickly acicular, mostly straight, honey-coloured; radials c. 3 – 7, porrect; centrals 0 – 1
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers broad funnel-form, pale yellow, 4 – 4.5 cm; bract scales reddish brown, axils naked; external perianth segments often red-tipped; pericarpel somewhat constricted above; nectary broad; ovary compressed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits pale red, oval, 1.5 cm, some scales near rim
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds oval to pyriform, c. 1.5 mm; hilum oval, position nearly lateral.
Copiapoa gigantea preferably grows on coastal rocky slopes.
Along the Chilean Pacific coast from south of Quebrada Izcuña near Caleta Colorado (24°38'S, 70°33'W) to north of Taltal (25°24'S, 70°28'W).
In the taxonomic framework used for the IUCN Red List, this taxon was considered under its synonym Copiapoa cinerea subsp. haseltoniana. Faundez et al. (2013), assessed C. cinerea (circumscription including C. cinerea subsp. cinerea, subsp. columna-alba and subsp. haseltoniana) as LC. Although Hoffmann & Flores (1989) and Hoffmann & Walter (2004) considered this taxon on its own to be VU, the conservation status of C. gigantea has not been assessed using the IUCN criteria (IUCN 2012). The EOO and AOO values indicate that C. gigantea may be considered as EN if conforming to additional conditions listed in Criterion B (IUCN 2012). The species is mainly threatened by construction and expansion of roads (I. Larridon, pers. observ.; P. C. Guerrero, pers. observ.), resulting in a decline of the extent and/or quality of habitat. Although it has large number of individuals, Schulz & Kapitany (1996) & Guerrero et al. (2010, 2012) estimated that overall population trends are negative. The species is currently not protected in situ, although it is conserved in ex situ seed bank and living collections (Larridon et al. 2014).


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