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STENOCEREUS eruca

Image of Stenocereus eruca

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

STENOCEREUS eruca

Plant Common Name

Casa de Ratas, Caterpillar Cactus, Creeping Devil Cactus

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Creeping devil is a unique ground hugging cactus famous for crippling the unwary hiker with its ferocious spines. The species is native to only one place on Earth, the Magdalena Plain of Baja California, the peninsula separated from the Mexican mainland by the Sea of Cortez. This desert experiences little rainfall except from the occasional late summer tropical storm. This is a rare example of a cactus that roots as it grows, and they are known to create extensive groundcover-like colonies that become impassible.

The devil’s stems are the diameter of a baseball bat and take on a sinuous character with the growing tip slightly raised just like a snake head. Each stem bears 10 to 12 ribs invisible beneath the cloak of interlacing spines. Each closely spaced areole bears 1 to 3 thick, dagger-like central spines and 10 to 17 radial spines. Spination is so dense as to render the entire plant a consistent gray color.

This cactus blooms sparsely in spring, probably because the local climate is too dry for its seed to germinate. It compensates by rooting along the bottom of the stems allowing them to break into segments with flash flooding that sweeps them away to start a fresh colony. When it does bloom, the narrow, trumpet shaped pale pink to creamy white blossoms open at night, then mature into small fruit. Due to its preference for sandy soil and the prostrate growth, this cactus is not well suited to pot culture. It is best cultivated under rock garden conditions or on hillsides with full exposure.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Width

    1'-20' / 0.3m - 6.1m

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Habit

    Prostrate/Trailing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Groundcover, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No