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CEREUS hildmannianus

Image of Cereus hildmannianus

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

CEREUS hildmannianus

Plant Common Name

Hedge Cactus, Night-blooming Cactus, Peruvian Apple Cactus, Queen-of-the-Night

General Description

The Peruvian apple cactus is a widely adapted, tree-like cactus that produces beautiful, edible fruit. It is native to central South America but its exact area of origin is debated because it was cultivated and distributed by indigenous peoples early on.

This is a highly variable species, which may bear large spines or almost none along its eight vertical ribs. There are no leaves, but the green stems photosynthesize sunlight. Its large, green and white flowers are tubular, many petaled and night blooming, though they will remain open up until the early morning hours. This is the reason the plant is also called queen-of-the-night. They are fragrant and may be pollinated by bees and moths. They give way to bright magenta, smooth-skinned fruits packed with sweet white flesh and tiny black, crunchy seeds. The fruit is a culinary delicacy said to taste like watermelon (if you can get to it before the birds and bats do).

This is a plant for hot, dry conditions but performs better if some irrigation occurs in the heat of summer. In winter keep the soil very dry. Its tall, multiple-branching form and fast growth have made it a popular hedge plant for arid gardens. It needs protection from direct afternoon sun in the low desert, but its fruit grow sweetest in extreme heat. Prune occasionally at the natural joints to keep branches strong, and plant the pruned branches in sand to allow them to root into new plants. Do not plant outdoors in regions that receive hard frosts and freezes each winter. Use it as a vertical accent in a rock or xeriscape garden, or as a rowed thicket as a hedge. When small, grow it as a containerized houseplant.

This species is considered invasive in Hawaii, as birds disperse seeds across the landscape.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 14

  • Sunset Zone

    H2, 13, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    10'-30' / 3.0m - 9.1m (20)

  • Width

    3'-7' / 0.9m - 2.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    South America, Argentina, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements


  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    White, Light Green

  • Flower Color Modifier


  • Fruit Color


  • Bark Color

    Green, Olive, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Hedges, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing