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 Stenocereus subsp. var.  
Stenocereus thurberi
Habit: cacti-succulent
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Lifespan: perennial
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USDA Zones: to
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Cactaceae > Stenocereus var. ,

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Stenocereus (Gk. stenos, narrow , L. cereus ,candle) is a genus of columnar or tree-like cacti from the Baja California Peninsula and other parts of Mexico, Arizona in the United States, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Venezuela. The genus has been enlarged by the addition of species from several other genera. A close relative is the peculiar chinoa or chende cactus, Polaskia chende.

The flowers are mostly borne near the apex of the stems and mostly noctunal. They are considered easy to grow and generally grow slowly.

Stenocereus thurberi (the organ pipe cactus) is a well-known member of this genus and is widely distributed in Arizona and northern Mexico.

Fruit of Stenocereus queretaroensis prepared for eating

The fruit is similar to a dragon fruit. Those of Stenocereus gummosus, acidic and very refreshing, are highly favored by the Seris of northwestern Mexico[1] who call the cactus ziix is ccapxlTemplate:Verify source - "thing whose fruit is sour". It is commonly known in Spanish as pitahaya agria or pitaya agria, or by the English translation Sour Pitahaya. S. griseus (Dagger Cactus) fruits, locally known as iguaraya, are relished by the Wayuu from the La Guajira Peninsula of Colombia and Venezuela[2].

Stenocereus are often used as ornamental plants in hot and arid regions, and as noted above, some species can double as a fruit crop.

The interior of Stenocereus trunks often grows to form tough, cane-like stakes suitable for certain kinds of construction. The Wayuu use those of Dagger Cactus for building wattle and daub walls, a technique they call yotojoro, after their name for the cactus wood "canes".[2]



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  1. Felger & Moser (1985)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Villalobos et al. (2007)

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