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Plantidote of the Day 2010-09-27

twig's picture

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Common name: San Pedro cactus

Trichocereus pachanoi

Family: Cactaceae

The weirdest thing happened a few days ago. I was looking out the window and noticed the cactus was in bloom. It might not sound like a big deal, but when a cactus only blooms once a year -- and the flowers last for a day, maybe two -- it's an event.

I'm not absolutely positive, but I think this is a San Pedro cactus, a native of South America. They're tall, columnar, multi-stemmed cacti that are almost spine free. San Pedros are also called shamanic cacti. They've been used medicinally and in ritual ceremonies for thousands of years because they contain mescaline (or so I've heard. There are even a few sites on the internet that explain how to extract the stuff, but you didn't hear that from me.)

They thrive in sunny, warm environments, like Zones 8b through 10. Or they can be grown in pots indoors, but they're fast growers and can get as tall as 30 feet, so this is not something to keep on the dining room table. Unlike some cacti, San Pedros actually like being watered, although they can survive quite nicely in drought conditions, too.

San Pedros are insanely easy to grow. Just lop off a piece and stick it in some soil and go on about your business. With or without water, as long as it gets some sun, the cutting will grow. Trust me. Once in a while, a piece of the one growing in the backyard breaks off. If I don't happen to see it and move it to a new location, it develops roots and sprouts new columns. Pretty cool, huh?

Readers, please send me (twig4now@gmail.com) images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a “Name That Plant” mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the comments.

PLANTIDOTE GROUP FORMING: Want to help gather images and take Plantidote of the Day to the next level? Of course you do! Join jerztomato, kerril and me by clicking the Join Groups menu item to sign up or email me at the address above!
Click on the image for the full-size version. Click here to see the entire series.

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Submitted by lambert on

The nice thing about having more people doing the Plantidotes... Is that it's coming out better than when I did it alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

jerztomato's picture
Submitted by jerztomato on

Nice cactus....... How tall is yours? The picture makes him look really impressive.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

which is why the image is not as good as it could have been -- the flowers were just too high up there. A couple other columns in this cluster are even taller. But the funny thing is, I did not have a clue about what this was -- other than a cactus -- until I started doing these Plantidotes and had to look it up.

You might envy me now, but just wait until you see my "fall leaves" image, jerz. Zone 10 shortcomings will become much more apparent then.

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

finally deciding to tell a story. I bought a cactus for my lab that looked pretty much like this one. And, it bloomed once a year. But, the reason I bought it was I got pissed off with all the superior guys dropping in and telling all us wimmen (I had an all female lab at the time) how we should be doing things, in often a very condescending manner.

So I brought in into the lab and told "the girls", okay, next time any of us gets that kind of shit, just look at that cactus, and say to yourself, "my dick is bigger than your dick".

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

I haven't thought about Candace Pert in a long time, but YES!