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STENOCEREUS pruinosus

Image of Stenocereus pruinosus

James H. Schutte

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

STENOCEREUS pruinosus

Plant Common Name

Gray Ghost Organ Pipe Cactus, Pitayo

Special Notice

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

General Description

This large columnar cactus is a valuable food source in Mexico where its fruit is harvested and sold in some rural markets. It is native to south central Mexico as far north as Puebla and south to Oaxaca, with plants are also found in the drier parts of Veracruz to the east. This is a tree like columnar cactus that may produce one or more trunks from which little-branching stems arise from the base for a distinctive V-shape. Each stem is gray green, the new growth often bearing a distinctive bloom. This led to its unusual common name, gray ghost organ pipe. They bear 6 to 10 very high ribs lined with areoles from which flowers and spines are produced. Each bears 1 to 4 central sines and 5 to 8 radials, all bearing a grayish color.

This cactus is also known as pitayo de Octubre in Mexico, which indicates its ripens around October. The flowers are borne on new growth at the stem tips. They open in spring as around the clock bloomers to exploit both day and night flying pollinators. The funnel shaped white flowers are modestly sized and packed with yellow stamens. Following the flowers are very large red fruits the size of a small apple. The outer skin of the fruit is spiny in youth, growing smooth with maturity making them easier to harvest. This frost tender cactus is a popular potted plant indoors and out provided the potting soil is sufficiently porous and well drained. It is an ideal candidate for lower elevation Southwestern gardens where winters are mild.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    13'-16' / 4.0m - 4.9m

  • Width

    4'-10' / 1.2m - 3.0m

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • 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, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No