Pachycereus schottii (Engelm.) D.R.Hunt
Old Man Cactus, Senita Cactus, Totem Pole Cactus, Whisker Cactus
Cereus schottii, Lophocereus schottii, Pilocereus schottii,
This species is native to the southwest United States (southern Arizona) and northwestern Mexico (Baja California and Sonora).
Pachycereus schottii, formerly known as Lophocereus schottii, is a slow-growing, usually trunkless cactus that forms clumps of numerous columnar stems with 5 to 8 ribs, branching mostly at or near the base. The stems are green with red around young areoles, aging gray-green, and with with faint waxy chevrons. They grow up to 13.1 feet (4 m) tall and up to 6.4 inches (16 cm) in diameter. The top portion of the mature stems is covered with hairlike, strongly twisted, and up to 4 inches (10 cm) long bristles. In contrast to the long spines at the top of mature stems, the young plants have only about five short conical spines.
Nocturnal flowers are short funnelform, up to 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) long and 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter, and often appear several per areole, usually in summer. Outer tepals are white with a greenish center. Inner tepals are white with a pink-orange center. Fruit are candy apple red, when immature greenish, and contain blakish seeds. They are ovoid to subspheric and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.
USDA hardiness zones 8b to 11b: from 15 °F (−9.4 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
These extraordinarily low-maintenance plants can grow untouched for decades, so there is not much you need to worry about. However, they must receive adequate sun and heat and be careful around their spines. If grown in containers, ensure they are being repotted, and their soil isn't too moist. Other than that, these plants are about as simple and hands-off as it gets.
If you cultivate a small specimen in a container, repotting it can be helpful. If so, repot it as you would any other cactus by removing it from the pot, cutting away any dead material from the roots, and replanting. Watch out for the plant's spines, and they can really ruin your day.
Like most cacti and succulents, these plants propagate by cuttings. Sever a branch and replant in well-drained soil. Make sure to stand the cactus up in an empty container to let its ends heal off before you replant it. This will keep its stems shaped right, and cacti with dried ends form roots more easily after planting.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Pachycereus.
Forms and Cultivars
- Back to genus Pachycereus
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