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Brachycereus nesioticus (Lava Cactus)


Scientific Name

Brachycereus nesioticus (K.Schum. ex B.L.Rob.) Backeb.

Common Names

Lava Cactus


Cereus nesioticus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Phyllocacteae
Genus: Brachycereus


Brachycereus nesioticus is a clump-forming cactus with cylindrical stems up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. The stems are yellow, with green or brown tones and have 16 to 22 ribs. Each areole has up to 40 spines up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, initially yellowish, but becoming darker with age. The flowers are narrowly funnel-shaped, up to 4.4 inches (11 cm) long and up to 2.2 inches (5.5 cm) in diameter, with many spines on the lower part of the flower. They are white to yellowish-white inside and open in the daytime. The fruits are red to brown, covered with yellow spines and filled with many black seeds.


USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Like most cacti, Cereus are fairly low-maintenance and hardy. Make sure they receive enough water without becoming waterlogged, especially during the summer and fertilize them for the best results. If the roots have become black or overly soft, the cactus could be experiencing root rot. Cutaway the affected parts and replant. Most gardeners interested in cacti should be able to cultivate these without much problem.

It may become necessary to repot your Cereus if it outgrows its container. If so, make sure the soil is dry and then remove the pot. Knock away old soil and prune away any rotted or dead roots, then replace it in a new pot and backfill with new soil. Make sure not to overwater cacti planted in new pots, as this can lead to root rot. It should be left dry for about a week and then watered lightly.

These cacti propagate quite easily from cuttings. Simply sever a branch and replant in moist, well-drained soil… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Cereus


Brachycereus nesioticus is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It is a colonizer of lava fields, hence its common name, where it forms spiny clumps.


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