Sunday, April 05, 2009

Blossfeldia liliputana habitat pictures

Sebastián Santecchia from Salta, Argentina has generously allowed me to post some of his amazing habitat photos.

Blossfeldia liliputana (Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia) displaying a  fruit
Blossfeldia liliputana (Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia) displaying a fruit

I was immediately taken with the beauty of the above picture – it almost seems surreal seeing a Blossfeldia liliputana in such a lush green environment. According to Sebastián the individual stems of the Tupiza plants grow to a maximum size of 2 cm in diameter – a fairly large size for this species. The plants grow in rock crevices, usually associated with mosses.

Blossfeldia liliputana habitat (Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia)
Blossfeldia liliputana habitat (Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia)

The habitat of Blossfeldia is severe and plants are subjected to extreme desiccation. In contrast to most other cactus species Blossfeldia has no thickened cuticle (thickened outer cell wall) but instead appears to be poikilohydric, meaning the plants can endure severe drying out, like many mosses and lichens (see this link for a more detailed explanation of what being poikilohydric means).

Another interesting feature of Blossfeldia is that the plants virtually lack stomata, their being restricted to the areolar pits. According to Ted Anderson, Blossfeldia probably has the lowest number of stomata per unit of surface area of any photosynthesizing plant.

Blossfeldia liliputana about to flower (Alemania, Salta, Argentina)
Blossfeldia liliputana about to flower (Alemania, Salta, Argentina)

The flowers of Blossfeldia liliputana are capable of self-pollination. The photo above shows a plant at the beginning of flowering in early spring.

Blossfeldia liliputana is fairly common and widespread, occurring over a north-south range of more than 1200 km, primarily on the eastern side of the Andes in southern Bolivia and northern and northwestern Argentina at elevations of 1200-3500m. Several species of Blossfeldia have been described but most botanists agree that there is but one species (given the extent of its habitat the plants are bound to show some variation).

You can find more of Sebastián's Blossfeldia photos here and view all his pictures of cactuses in habitat (Bolivia and northern Argentina) at the SagtaCactus flickr photostream.

Edward F. Anderson, The Cactus Family (Timber Press, 2001) ISBN 0-88192-498-9, pp. 129-130


  1. I can't stop myself coming back for another look at these, they're amazing! The other ones on the photostream are just as interesting too.

  2. Yes, Sebastián's habitat photos are fascinating - they certainly have put northern Argentina and southern Bolivia on my travel wishlist ;-)


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