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  Trichocereus pachanoi
(Syn: Echinopsis pachanoi)

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of Cacti and Succulents.


Trichocereus pachanoi has highly variable spines. Some stems have essentially no spines, but others have as many as 3-7 yellow to brown spines, up to 2  (or more) cm long. Time and again a spineless plant, after several years of growth, has started producing spines.
Like its relatives, this species is a quick grower and is reported to grow up to 6m in height.

Growth Habits: Large, multi-stemmed fast-growing columnar cactus. Forms a small tree 3 to 6 meters tall by 1,8 m spread, with several branches, usually extending from the base.
Stem: Upright columnar and flexible, pale green to blue-green, slightly glaucous when young, dark green in age. Up to 6 m tall, 6-15 cm in diameter.
Ribs: 4-8, (usually 5-7) broad at base, obtuse, rounded, with a deep horizontal depression above the areole.
Areoles: Whitish, close set.
Spines: Highly variable, often wanting, when present few (3 to 7), unequal, the longest 1 to 2 cm. long, dark yellow to light brown. Spines are located at the nodes which are spaced evenly (approximately 2 cm apart) along the ribs.
Flowers: Very large, white, night blooming and remaining open for the following day, fragrant, up to 22 cm in diameter. They are very showy. Inner perianth segments white, outer segments brik red, stamen filaments greenish. In this species, the flowers buds are produced from the spine clusters along the margins near the top of branches. The buds are pointed. Flowers tube, and fruits are covered with scales and black curled hairs.
Blooming time: July.
Fruit: Oblong, dark-green, 5-6 cm long, 3 cm in diameter.

Remarks: The San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi,) is often confused with its close relative, the Peruvian Torch cactus (Trichocereus peruvianus) which contains small quantities of mescaline, a hallucinogenic drug.


Photo &
© copyright
by Süleyman Demir Turkey 

Photo of conspecific taxa, varieties, forms and cultivars of Trichocereus pachanoi.



Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Trichocereus pachanoi Britton & Rose
Published in: The Cactaceae 2 (1920) 134, t. 196.

Scientific name: Echinopsis pachanoi (Britton & Rose) H. Friedrich & G. D. Rowley 1974

Common name: San Pedro (Peru, USA), Achuma (Bolivia)

Conservation status: Listed in CITES appendix 2.

Synonyms: Cereus pachanoi (Britton & Rose) Werdermann

Origin: Mountains of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and northern Argentina, between 1500m and 2700m elevation. Subspontaneous in several South American and in some tropical countries in other continents.

Habitat:  It grows naturally in the high altitude, high rainfall areas of the Andes, it can withstand temperatures far below that of many other cacti.



Trichocereus pachanoi will form several branches, usually extending basally from beneath the soil level.

Cultivation: Trichocereus pachanoi is very easy to grow and cold hardy as low as -12°C (or less). It needs a fertile, well drained soil mix. Water the plants well and allow them to dry before watering again. This species seems to do better with a little more water than most cacti. In fact, its cultivation requirements are really more like 'normal' plants than most other cacti.  During the growing season fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer
Sun Exposure: Outside full sun, but during hot summers the cactus are subject to sun burning, so grow them in light shade.  Inside they need bright light, and some direct sun.. During winter months, put them in a cool luminous place and encourage them to enter winter dormancy by withholding water and fertiliser over the winter, as they will etiolate, or become thin, due to lower levels of light. They are susceptible to fungal diseases if overwatered, but are not nearly as sensitive as many other cacti, especially in warm weather. They tend characteristically towards black rotted spots unless watering is moderate and only in hot weather.  If kept damp through cold periods, they will invariably suffer.
T. pachanoi produces prodigious amounts of growth each year if kept well fed and watered throughout the warmest months, particularly if it has been acclimatised to accept full sun. Once this cactus is established it can easily produce 30cm of growth every year.

Propagation: By cutting or from seed. The seeds are quite easy to germinate and grow. Their main requirements consist of high humidity levels, free-draining soil mix, and enough water, light, and nutrition.


  • Ornamentals: Often cultivated for hedges and also planted as ornamental worldwide in tropical climate gardens .
  • Grafting stock: It is commonly suggested as a universal grafting stock and is widely grown for this purpose.  It is by far one of the best and hardy root stocks for smaller, slower, low-growing cacti often seen as the base stock in photographs within numerous publications. Several others of the Trichocereus species also work well as fast growing columnar stocks, and have a good success rate for lasting a long time. Some forms of T. bridgesii, T. peruvianus, T. spachianus and faster growing strains of T. werdermannianus will also work well. 
    T. macrogonus and T. pasacana are often recommended for colder climates and for grafting species of cold hardy scions. Scions grafted on Trichocereus might initially take slightly longer to begin their growth burst (when compared to other grafting stocks), but usually have a very good life span of steady fast growth.
  • Hallucinogenic drug: The young stems are chopped because of their alkaloid content and frequently sold in the markets in Ecuador, north Peru and Bolivia. The indigenous people of the andes recognize several “kinds” of San pedro, distinguished by the number of ribs. Cacti with seve ribs are the least potent and most common. Cacti with four ribs are rare , considedered the more potent and belived to have special power because each rib correspond with one of the “four winds”. The four winds and the four roads are supernatural powers associated with the four cardinal directions. It is still used in present days by shamans and folk healers. The use of this plant date back to 3000 yeas ago.

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

Photo gallery TRICHOCEREUS

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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.