Pachycereus pringlei, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Pachycereus pringlei (*)
Pachycereus pringlei (S.Watson) Britton & Rose
* Contributions from the United States National Herbarium. Smithsonian Institution 12:422. 1909
Pachycereus pringlei (Cardón) is a species of cactus, native to northwestern Mexico in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, and Sonora.
It is the tallest cactus species in the world, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 meters (62.9 feet), with a stout trunk up to 1 m diameter bearing several erect branches. In overall appearance, it resembles the related Carnegiea gigantea (Saguaro), but differs in the fewer ribs on the stems, in being more heavily branched from near to the base of the stem, and in the location of the blossoms.
Large stands of these magnificent cactus still exist, but many have been destroyed as fields have been cleared for cultivation in Sonora.
The fruit of this cactus was an important food for the Seri people in Sonora, who call the cactus xaasj.
The flesh of this cactus contains alkaloids, and may have been used as a psychoactive plant in Mexico.
A symbiotic relationship with baterial and fungal colonies on its roots allows P. pringlei to grow on bare rock even where there is no soil available at all, as the bacteria can fix nitrogen from the air and break down the rock to produce nutrients. The cactus even packages symbiotic bacteria in with its seeds.
1. ^ Salak, M.. "In search of the tallest cactus". Cactus and Succulent Journal 72 (3).
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License