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STENOCEREUS gummosus

Image of Stenocereus gummosus

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

STENOCEREUS gummosus

Plant Common Name

Dagger Cactus, Pithaya Agria

Special Notice

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

General Description

This rather disorganized looking columnar cactus tends to twist and turn into very large thickets. It is native to a very small range on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico, separated from the mainland by the Sea of Cortez. With little rainfall except the occasional summer tropical storm, this region is very dry and isolated. This is a sprawling cactus that produces a multitude of branches from its base that overall do not attain much height despite the length of individual stems. Their sinuous character produces some horizontal branches that may root or produce an abundance of new upright growths. The stems are gray green bearing 8 to 9 low ribs. Each areole produces 3 to 9 gray central spines surrounded by 8 to 12 radial spines.

This is a night blooming species which produces slender flowers in pale lavender, white or rose pink. These are quite large, and as long as a soda can. They mature into sizable edible fruit harvested by the Seri of Baja as a food crop. A unique characteristic of this cactus is the amount of terpenes in the stems, which are naturally poisonous alkaloids. The Seri crush these stems to stun fish as well. This cactus asks for well drained soil, very dry conditions and lots of room to sprawl. It may be container grown in very lean well drained soils. This is an excellent landscape cactus for the low desert.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Habit

    Thicket/Colonizing

  • 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

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No