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STENOCEREUS stellatus

Image of Stenocereus stellatus

James H. Schutte

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

STENOCEREUS stellatus

Plant Common Name

Baja Organ Pipe Cactus

Special Notice

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

General Description

Lush green color gives this large columnar cactus high marks for desert Southwest gardens both as an ornamental and a fruit producer. It is native to south central Mexico in three states: Puebla, Morelos and Oaxaca where summers are hot and dry, the landscape irregular and rocky. It may produce one or more trunks at the base with little to no branching for an upright form overall. Each stem is dark green, bearing 8 to 12 ribs lined with distinctively rounded tubercles or extrusions bearing the corky areoles from which flowers and spines are produced. Each areole bears three central spines, one facing upward and the others downward leaning. These are surrounded by 7 to 9 short gray radial spines, their tips often black in color.

This is a night blooming species highly dependent on a variety of bats for pollination. The flowers are borne on new growth at the stem tips. They are pale rose, about the length and diameter of a human thumb, with unusually short petals. These mature into large rose-colored fruits that shed their spines at maturity. This species is considered a gourmet cactus fruit, eaten out of hand and used to make beverages and pastries in Mexico. It is said to produce the finest of all cactus fruit jams. 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

    6'-13' / 1.8m - 4.0m

  • Width

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • 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