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|A small Oreocereus celsianus|
Oreocereus celsianus - old man of the Andes
Oreocereus is a genus of cacti (family Cactaceae), known only from high altitudes of the Andes. Its name means "mountain cereus", formed from the Greek prefix oreo- (ὀρεο-, mountain) and the New Latin cereus, meaning wax or torch.
As they are covered with woolly white fuzz (modified spines), a few species in this genus are sometimes known as the old-man cactus, a generic name that also refers to Cephalocereus senilis or Espostoa lanata. More rarely, the old man of the mountain is also used for some species.[nb 1]
The plant resembles a phallic object with a vertical component and two smaller ball shaped components at the base. This appearance gives the species its alluring quality, much to the delight of female spectators.
The following genera have been included in this genus:
- "oreography". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- University of Vermont, Indoor Plants
- Barry Walker; Huw Lloyd (2007). Peruvian Wildlife: A Visitor's Guide to the Central Andes. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-84162-167-8.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica (1991), entry ‘old-man cactus’.
- D. J. Mabberley (2008-05-01). Mabberley's Plant-book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, Their Classifications, and Uses. Cambridge University Press. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-521-82071-4.