Cereus albicaulis (Britton & Rose) Luetzelb.
Acanthocereus albicaulis, Mirabella albicaulis, Monvillea albicaulis
This species is native to Brazil (Bahia).
Cereus albicaulis is a rare shrubby cactus with only a few weak, bluish-white, sharply 4-edged branches with slightly wavy ribs and 2 to 6 brown spines per areole. The branches are initially erect but tend to lean and arch over as they grow. They are up to 40 inches (1 m) long and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) wide. The areoles are small, brown-felted, and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) apart. Spines are up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long. The nocturnal flowers are white, funnel-shaped, up to 7.2 inches (18 cm) long, and appear in summer. Fruits are edible, greyish-purple, oblong, and somewhat angular, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.
The specific epithet "albicaulis (al-bih-KAW-liss)" means "white-stemmed" or "having white stems" and refers to the whitish stems of the species. It is a compound of two Latin words, the adjective "albus," meaning "white," "clear or bright," and "pale, fair, gray, or hoary," and the noun "caulis," meaning "stalk" or "stem."
How to Grow and Care for Cereus albicaulis
Light: This cactus likes full sun. It can handle partial shade but thrives in direct sunlight during the summer. A sunny window is a good spot to grow C. albicaulis indoors. Rotate the pot a quarter turn every week or two to encourage balanced growth. If possible, get your cactus outdoors from spring to fall.
Soil: C. albicaulis does not like to have "wet feet" and needs to be grown in well-draining soil. Use commercial soil mixes for cacti or make your own mix.
Hardiness: During the active growth period, this cactus likes warm temperatures, while in winter, it likes cooler temperatures. C. albicaulis can withstand temperatures as low as 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.
Watering: From spring to fall, water thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out before watering again. With the arrival of fall, gradually reduce the watering frequency. During the winter, when C. albicaulis is dormant, give it just enough water to prevent shrinking.
Fertilizing: During its growing season, this cactus likes regular fertilizing. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, diluted to 1/4 strength, can be added to the water for each watering. A 10-10-10 fertilizer is ideal. Instead of making a solution of water and fertilizer, there are also dry fertilizers. Do not fertilize during the winter.
Repotting: While C. albicaulis is young, it is recommended to repot each year in early spring. Once it matures, repot when your cactus is outgrowing its pot.
Propagation: Using stem cuttings is the easiest method to propagate C. albicaulis because seed propagation is a slow process. Planting of the cuttings is best done when the cactus is actively growing. Spring and summer is the best time to sow the seeds.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Cereus.
Toxicity of Cereus albicaulis
C. albicaulis is non-toxic to humans or animals.
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