Pachycereus (2012)

PhotoBy Eric Driskill (February 2012)

The name Pachycereus comes from the Greek “pakhus,” which means thick, and “cereus,” meaning torch. The genus has nine to 12 species, depending on which author you follow.

The plants grow in Mexico and north into the southwestern United States. Pachycereus are large columnar cacti that grow as a single stem, or may branch. They are slow-growing and branch only after many years and several feet of growth.

Flowers appear only on mature plants 5 to 15 years old. The white or pink flowers are funnel-shaped and nocturnal, appearing at the stem tips in spring to early summer. Fruits are rather large, green, yellow or red, and quite spiny.

P. pringlei is one of the more common species in the Pachycereus genus. However, these plants can reach the impressive height of 42 feet, which make them the tallest cactus species in the world.

P. marginatus is an attractive species with a very crisp look from clean stems and a neat row of spines along the edge of the ribs. P. schottii “Monstrose” is commonly known as the totem pole cactus. This species is very unique, and a well-grown plant can be a show stopper. The plants resemble a large green candle that is melting. Each plant is a botanical work of art.

You may decide to add one of these stately plants to your collection. Likely your plant with take vertical space before it takes up much horizontal space at all. Pachycereus plants grow well in full sun and fast-draining soil.