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  Neobuxbaumia polylopha forma cristata
(Syn: Carnegia polylopha "cristata")

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Neobuxbaumia polylopha forma cristata
A large well grown plant is truly an achievement.

Description: Neobuxbaumia polylopha is a very tall columnar cactus with a thick telephone pole-like stem , 7-12(-15) m tall; Often remain solitary but it can ramify forming a candelabra-like tree with little curved branches. This plant is characterized by the many, narrow, closely spaced ribs
Stem: Thick, columnar, deeply ribbed, green.
Ribs: 10-30 narrow, acute
Areoles: Small , 4-6 mm apart with yellowish felt
Spines: Yellowish turning grey as they age, thin, acicular, bristle-like, mostly pointing downward, approx 1 to 2 cm long. As ages, spines tend to fall out.
Central spines: 1
Radial spines: 4 - 8
Flowers: Diurnal, externally green with vivid pink, dark red or magenta (or orage-yellow) petals near the top of the cactus, their ovary is sometimes tuberculate, with small scales and red filaments.
Fruits: Small, cylindrical, greenish approx 4 cm long. They mature rapidly and the seeds can be ready to germinate in only 3 weeks. They open in a quite peculiar way and form something like a star on the stem of the plant with the black seeds in contrast with the off-white colour of the pulp. The fruits are totally exposed to the birds that devour them quickly. They are also edible for humans, tastes smoothly sweet and remembers a very mature plum.

The cause of cresting: The cause of cresting is not fully explained;  biologists disagree as to why some plant grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning strike or freeze damage, but whatever the stimulus, the growth point of the stem has switched from a geometric point, to a line, which folds and undulates as the crest expands. Though these crested Neobuxbaumia are somewhat rare (1 in 250,000), cresting occurs naturally, and can be encountered in many other cactus species.
In the ontogenesis a crest can appear any time, but development of crests on large columnar cactus species ( such as the saguaro Neobuxbaumia polylopha) in the early stages of ontogenesis is unlikely. On the other hand, small species may crest early already at the cotyledons stage

Propagation: Usually propagated by grafting or from cuttings in spring (let them dry till the ends callous well). Then replant them in fresh cactus soil that is ever so slightly moist, and keep it that way till they root)

Photo gallery: Alphabetical listing of Cactus and Succulent pictures published in this site.

Photo gallery NEOBUXBAUMIA



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Scientific name: Neobuxbaumia polylopha (DC) Backeberg
Place of publication: Blätt. Kakteenf. 1938(6): [24]. 1938
forma cristata

Origin:  Mexico (endemic to a small area in the state of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí)

Habitat: The Neobuxbaumia polylophas grow in limestone canyon wall, where they emerge majestically from the thorny forest, in this area there are several columnar species.

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Common Names include: (English) Golden Saguaro, Golden-spined saguaro, Wax cactus, Cone cactus, (Mexican) Cardón.

Etymology: The species name "polylopha" means "many ribs"


  • Cereus polylophus DC. (Basyonym)
    Place of publication: Mém. Mus. Hist. Paris, 17 : 115, 1828
  • Pilosocereus polylophus (DC.) Salm Dyck
    Place of publication: Cact. Hort. Dyck. 1844 : 24, 1845
  • Cephalocereus polylophus (DC.) Br. et R.
    Place of publication: Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb., 12 : 419, 1909
  • Carnegia polylopha (A.P.de Candolle) D.R.Hunt 1988




Culture: Neobuxbaumia are of easy culture and can grow 15-20 cm  a year. They are cold intolerant. Make sure they are not exposed to freezing temperatures ( Hardy to -2°C) or they may die. They   need a well drained soil mix. It appreciates abundant water during the summer and, during its growing period but allow to dry fully before watering again, it is possible to add a fertilizer 6-6-18 from time to time. During the winter months they should be rather kept dry. Since they are rapid growers, they need plenty of space for their roots.  Repotting should be done every other year, or when the plant has outgrown its pot. Sun Exposure: Light shade when young, full sun later. In mild climate they can be grown  in rock gardens in full sun, in dry and sandy soils.

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of
Neobuxbaumia polylopha.

Home | E-mail | Plant files | Mail Sale Catalogue | Links | Information | Search

All the information and photos in cactus art files are now available also in the new the Enciclopedia of Cacti. We hope you find this new site informative and useful.