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Stenocereus pruinosus


Common Names

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Common Names in English:



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Family Cactaceae

Fleshy perennials , shrubs , trees or vines , terrestrial or epiphytic. Stems jointed , terete , globose , flattened, or fluted , mostly leafless and variously spiny . Leaves alternate, flat or subulate to terete, vestigial, or entirely absent; spines, glochids (easily detached, small, bristlelike spines), and flowers always arising from cushionlike, axillary areoles (modified short shoots ) . Flowers solitary, sessile, rarely clustered and stalked (in Pereskia), bisexual , rarely unisexual , actinomorphic or occasionally zygomorphic. Receptacle tube (hypanthium or perianth tube) absent or short to elongate , naked or invested with leaflike bracts, scales , areoles, and hairs , bristles , or spines; perianth segments usually numerous , in a sepaloid to petaloid series. Stamens numerous, variously inserted in throat and tube; anthers 2-loculed, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary (pericarpel) inferior, rarely superior, 1-loculed, with 3 to many parietal (rarely basal) placentas; ovules usually numerous; style 1; stigmas 2 to numerous, papillate , rarely 2-fid. Fruit juicy or dry, naked, scaly , hairy , bristly , or spiny, indehiscent or dehiscent , when juicy then pulp derived from often deliquescent funicles (except in Pereskia) . Seeds usually numerous, often arillate or strophiolate ; embryo curved or rarely straight; endosperm present or absent; cotyledons reduced or vestigial, rarely leaflike.

About 110 genera and more than 1000 species: temperate and tropical America; Rhipsalis baccifera (J. S. Mueller) Stearn native in tropical Africa, Madagascar, Comoros, Mascarenes, and Sri Lanka; some species of other genera now extensively naturalized in the Old World through human agency; more than 60 genera and 600 species cultivated as ornamentals or hedges in China, of which four genera and seven species more or less naturalized.[1]

Genus Stenocereus

Trees or shrubs , erect , arching , or procumbent , mostly branched from base . Roots adventitious if plant procumbent. Stems unsegmented , often more narrow at branch bases and where showing growth increments , green to bluish green [or whitish from surface wax or purple tinged from pigment], columnar , ribbed , [50-]100-500+ × [5-](9-) 11-18[-20] cm; ribs 4-20, rounded , margins nearly flat to sinusoidal or strongly tuberculate , with transverse folds between areoles or not; areoles 0.5-2.5 cm apart, circular to horizontally elliptic , young hairs whitish or tan to reddish brown, aging darker; areolar glands present or absent; cortex mucilaginous or not, mucilage throughout and slippery or restricted to sacs in outer cortex, green to white or yellowish; pith mucilaginous or not, 1-8 cm wide. Spines to 28 per areole, hemispherically arranged, initially rose to magenta, becoming darker or fading to grayish white, relatively thin and brittle to stout and very hard; radial spines to 3.5 cm; central spines usually weakly defined or absent, sometimes broad and downward pointing, to 7.5 cm. Flowers diurnal or nocturnal , produced only once on areole [or not], terminal to lateral , funnelform [to tubular ]; flower tubes2-11 cm; outer tepals with dark green to purplish centers but light margins, margins entire; inner tepals white to rose-red [or yellow]; ovary globose to barrel-shaped, similar to locule shape ; scales persistent , reddish or green with red tips , small, triangular; hairs and spines often present; stigma lobes 5-15, inserted or exserted; nectar chamber open. Fruits indehiscent or sometimes splitting irregularly, dark red to purplish green or green, spheric [to ovoid ], 30-100 mm, fleshy to juicy [or somewhat dry], bearing deciduous spine clusters; pulp red, special pigment cells present; floral remnant persistent or deciduous. Seeds brownish black or black, oblong to subspheric with oblique hilum , 0.7-3 mm, dull or rarely glossy; testa cells convex or nearly flat, with prominent to faint, raised waxy striations or not. x = 11.

Species ca. 20: s Arizona, Mexico, West Indies, coastal Central America, n South America, cultivated and naturalized elsewhere.

During the nineteenth century, the ribbed columnar cacti, numbering in the hundreds , were generally classified as species of Cereus. In the early twentieth century, however, Cereus, in the broadest sense, was subdivided into many smaller and more homogeneous units , initially by N. L. Britton and J. N. Rose (1909, 1919-1923). The phylogenetic relationships of North American columnar species were clarified by studies of silica bodies in the epidermis and hypodermis covering the stems of certain Mexican species, distinctive pigment cells, called pearl cells, in the fruit pulp, and sugar-bearing oleanane triterpenes in stem tissues (A. C. Gibson and K . E. Horak 1978). Species possessing all three derived characters were removed from Lemaireocereus, Machaerocereus, Rathbunia, Hertrichocereus, Ritterocereus, and Marshallocereus and placed into the genus Stenocereus, which was further emended by removing species without the shared characters.

Several of the Central American species assigned to Stenocereus by E. F. Anderson (2001) are too poorly studied to know whether or not they have the diagnostic characters for the genus. A carefully done DNA phylogeny for all taxa with possible inclusion in Stenocereus is needed, especially to define more precisely the phylogenetic lineages and patterns of speciation (R. S. Wallace and A. C. Gibson 2002).[2]

Physical Description

Flowers: Bloom Period: March, April, May. • Flower Color: near white, pale pink, white


Size: 10-12' tall.


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Culture: Space 10-12' apart.

Soil: Minimum pH: 6.1 • Maximum pH: 7.8

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full Sun .

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: High

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 9b, 10a, 10b, 11. (map)


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A tentatively accepted name in the RHS Horticultural Database.

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Stenocereus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 25 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

S. alamosensis (Cina) · S. aragonii (Stenocereus) · S. beneckei (Stenocereus) · S. chacalapensis (Stenocereus) · S. chrysocarpus (Stenocereus) · S. eichlamii (Guanocal) · S. ercua (Caterpillar Cactus) · S. eruca (Creeping Devil) · S. fimbriatus (Spanish Stenocereus) · S. fricii (Pitayo De Aguas) · S. griseus (Mexican Organ Pipe) · S. gummosus (Dagger Cactus) · S. kerberi (Sina) · S. laevigatus (Stenocereus) · S. martinezii (Pitahayo) · S. montanus (Mountain Organ Pipe) · S. pruinosis (Gray Ghost Organ Pipe) · S. pruinosus (Stenocereus) · S. queretaroensis (Pitahaya De Queretaro) · S. quevedonis (Pitire) · S. standleyi (Pitaya) · S. stellatus (Pitaya) · S. thurberi (Mehuele) · S. treleasei (Tunillo) · S. yunckeri (Stenocereus)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal December 07, 2007:



  1. Zhen-yu Li & Nigel P. Taylor "Cactaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 13 Page 209. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Arthur C. Gibson "Stenocereus". in Flora of North America Vol. 4 Page 97, 186, 187,. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
Last Revised: 2/1/2015