Echinopsis is a genus of cacti native to South America, sometimes known as hedgehog cactus, sea-urchin cactus or Easter lily cactus. As of October 2023, there are about 20 accepted species, ranging from large and treelike types to small globose cacti. The name derives from echinos hedgehog or sea urchin, and opsis appearance, a reference to these plants' dense coverings of spines.

Echinopsis oxygona
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cereeae
Subtribe: Trichocereinae
Genus: Echinopsis
Type species
Echinopsis eyriesii, now Echinopsis oxygona

Around 20, see text

  • Andenea Kreuz.
  • Aureilobivia Frič ex Kreuz., not validly publ.
  • Cosmantha Y.Itô
  • × Cosmopsis Y.Itô
  • Echinonyctanthus Lem.
  • Hymenorebutia Frič ex Buining
  • Pilopsis Y.Itô, not validly publ.
  • Salpingolobivia Y.Itô
  • × Salpingolobiviopsis Y.Itô

and see text

They are remarkable for the great size, length of tube, and beauty of their flowers, borne upon generally small and dumpy stems.



Studies in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in several formerly separate genera being absorbed into Echinopsis. When very broadly circumscribed, Echinopsis sensu lato included over 100 species.[1] Some genera have been absorbed and then accepted again. For example, the genus name Trichocereus was given to a number of columnar cacti in 1909 by Vincenzo Riccobono. The genus was subsumed into Echinopsis in 1974 by Friedrich, along with Lobivia. In 2011, it was argued that Trichocereus was distinct from Echinopsis,[2] and a 2012 genetic and morphological study by Albesiano found Trichocereus to be monophyletic if it included three species of Harrisia.[3]

A 2012 genetic analysis of chloroplast DNA indicated Echinopsis was made up of several divergent lineages.[4] This was shown again in 2019.[1]

As of October 2023, Plants of the World Online accepts Echinopsis more narrowly circumscribed to include only about 20 species,[5] the others being separated in Acanthocalycium, Chamaecereus, Leucostele, Lobivia, Reicheocactus, Setiechinopsis, Soehrensia and Trichocereus, and in one case (E. cephalomacrostibas ) moved to Weberbauerocereus.



Species of Echinopsis sensu stricto accepted by Plants of the World Online as of September 2023:[5]

Image Scientific Name Distribution
  Echinopsis albispinosa K.Schum.
(including E. silvestrii)
  Echinopsis aurea Britton & Rose Argentina
Echinopsis breviflora (Backeb.) M.Lowry Argentina (Salta)
  Echinopsis calochlora K.Schum.
(including E. hammerschmidii)
Bolivia to Brazil (Mato Grosso do Sul)
Echinopsis chalaensis (Rauh & Backeb.) H.Friedrich & G.D.Rowley
(sometimes in Trichocereus)
  Echinopsis chrysantha Werderm. Argentina
  Echinopsis clavata (F.Ritter) D.R.Hunt
(sometimes in Trichocereus)
  Echinopsis cuzcoensis (Britton & Rose) H.Friedrich & G.D.Rowley
(sometimes in Trichocereus)
  Echinopsis densispina Werderm. Argentina
  Echinopsis haematantha (Speg.) D.R.Hunt Argentina and Bolivia
Echinopsis jajoana (Backeb.) Blossf.
(including E. sanguiniflora)
  Echinopsis lageniformis (C.F.Först.) H.Friedrich & G.D.Rowley
(sometimes in Trichocereus)
Echinopsis marsoneri Werderm. Bolivia to Argentina (Jujuy, Salta).
Echinopsis oligotricha (Cárdenas) M.Lowry Bolivia
  Echinopsis oxygona (Link) Zucc. ex Pfeiff. & Otto
(including E. adolfofriedrichii, E. brasiliensis, E. eyriesii, E. tubiflora)
Brazil, Uruguay and northern Argentina
Echinopsis rauschii Friedrich Bolivia (Cochabamba)
  Echinopsis rojasii Cárdenas Bolivia
  Echinopsis tacaquirensis (Vaupel) H.Friedrich & G.D.Rowley
(sometimes in Trichocereus)
Echinopsis torrefluminensis M.Lowry Bolivia
  Echinopsis werdermannii Frič ex Fleisch.
(sometimes in E. oxygona)

Other species sometimes accepted in this genus are Echinopsis huotii (F.Cels) Labour. and Echinopsis mieckleyi R.Mey.. In addition, many hybrids exist, mostly between similar species but also between more distinct ones, such as the cross between Trichocereus pachanoi (now Trichocereus macrogonus var. pachanoi) and E. eyriesii (now E. oxygona) which was sold under the name "Trichopsis pachaniesii" by Sacred Succulents.



Echinopsis species are native to South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).[5] They thrive in desert grasslands, shrubland, and in situations where the soil is sandy or gravelly, such as the sides of hills in the crevices of rocks.[6]


Time-lapse video of a blooming echinopsis

The growing and resting seasons for Echinopsis are the same as for Echinocactus.[citation needed] Research by J. Smith (former Curator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) showed that species like the Chilean Echinopsis cristata and its Mexican relatives thrive if potted in light loam, with a little leaf mould and a few nodules of limestone. The limestone keeps the soil open; it is important that the soil should be well drained.



  1. ^ a b Guerrero, Pablo C.; Majure, Lucas C.; Cornejo-Romero, Amelia & Hernández-Hernández, Tania (2019). "Phylogenetic Relationships and Evolutionary Trends in the Cactus Family". Journal of Heredity. 110 (1): 4–21. doi:10.1093/jhered/esy064. PMID 30476167.
  2. ^ Schick, Robert (2011), "Echinopsis sensu stricto and Trichocereus: Differentiating the Genera", Cactus and Succulent Journal, 83 (6): 248–255, doi:10.2985/0007-9367-83.6.248, S2CID 83700680
  3. ^ Albesiano, Sofía; Terrazas, Teresa (2012). "Cladistic Analysis of Trichocereus (Cactaceae: Cactoideae: Trichocereeae) Based on Morphological Data and Chloroplast Dna Sequences: Dedicated to Omar Emilio Ferrari (1936-2010)". Haseltonia. 17: 3–23. doi:10.2985/1070-0048-17.1.2. S2CID 9835045.
  4. ^ Schlumpberger, Boris O.; Renner, Susanne S. (2012). "Molecular phylogenetics of Echinopsis (Cactaceae): Polyphyly at all levels and convergent evolution of pollination modes and growth forms". American Journal of Botany. 99 (8): 1335–49. doi:10.3732/ajb.1100288. PMID 22859654.
  5. ^ a b c "Echinopsis Zucc. — Plants of the World Online". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2023-10-08.
  6. ^ "Sea-urchin cactus | Description, Distribution, & Facts | Britannica". Retrieved 2024-05-09.