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Pachycereus schottii (Senita Cactus)

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Scientific Name

Pachycereus schottii (Engelm.) D.R.Hunt

Common Names

Senita Cactus, Whisker Cactus, Old Man Cactus, Totem Pole Cactus

Synonyms

Lophocereus schottii, Lophocereus schottii var. schottii, Cereus mieckleyanus, Cereus palmeri, Cereus sargentianus, Cereus schottii, Lemaireocereus mieckleyanus, Lophocereus australis, Lophocereus mieckleyanus, Lophocereus sargentianus, Pachycereus australis, Pilocereus sargentianus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Pachycereeae
Genus: Pachycereus

Description

Pachycereus schottii, formerly known as Lophocereus schottii, is a slow-growing, usually trunkless cactus that forms numerous tall, columnar stems which branch mostly at or near the base. Stems are with 5 to 8 ribs, grey-green with a waxy bloom on the surface, up to 13.1 feet (4 m) tall and up to 6.4 inches (16 cm) in diameter. Tips of the mature stems are covered with hairlike, strongly twisted and up to 4 inches (10 cm) long bristles. In contrast to the long spines at the tips of mature stems, the young plants have only about 5 short conical spines. Flowers are nocturnal, greenish-white on the underside and pinkish-white inside, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long and up to 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) in diameter. Edible fruits are red, spineless, rounded and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter.

Photo via public.asu.edu

Hardiness

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 basically grow untouched for decades, so there is really not a lot you need to worry about. Obviously it is very important that they receive adequate sun and heat and be careful around their spines. If grown in containers, make sure that they are being repotted and that their soil isn't too moist. Other than that, these plants are about as simple and hands-off as it gets.

If you do choose to 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, 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 as well 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.

Origin

Pachycereus schottii is native to southern Arizona and north-western Mexico, particularly Baja California and Sonora.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids

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