The name Echinocereus stramineus (also known as Cereus conglomeratus, C. stramineus, Echinocereus conglomeratus, Cereus stramineus, or Echinocereus enneacanthus), which means “made of straw” or “straw-yellow” in reference to the color of its thorns.
There are many popular names for this cactus, including pitaya, pitahaya, agosteña, porcupine hedgehog cactus, sanjuanera, spiny strawberry hedgehog, strawberry cactus, strawberry hedgehog cacti or dragon fruit. This particular plant can be differentiated from other Echinocereus by its straw-colored spines.
Echinocereus stramineus is distributed in the southwestern United States and central to central Mexico.
Echinocereus stramineus is a species in the genus Echinocereus, which contains between 110 and 161 species and is part of the Cactaceae family (Cactus Family).
Native to the United States, Mexico. It is distributed in Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas in Mexico and in New Mexico and Texas in the United States. It inhabits xerophytic scrub and pine forests, growing on rocky hills, on limestone or volcanic soils, at elevations of 1200 to 2100 meters above sea level.
|Habit:||Cactus / succulent|
|Flower:||Deep pink to magenta|
|Bloom color:||Red, pink, purple|
|Light requirement:||Full sun|
|Temperature conditions:||Minimum temperature 50 F. (> 10 °C)|
Cereus conglomeratus grows many shoots and forms large compact colonies with up to 500 shoots and diameters of over 1 meter. The cylindrical shoots, gradually tapering toward their tips, are up to 45 centimeters long and have diameters up to 8 centimeters. They are mostly covered by the spination.
There are ten to 17 ribs, which are sparsely humped. The one to four strong, rounded to slightly flattened, straight to somewhat curved, initially straw-colored central spines later become whitish. They range in length from 4 to 8.7 centimeters. The seven to 14 initially pinkish to yellowish and later whitish marginal spines are up to 3 centimeters long.
The first description as Cereus stramineus by George Engelmann was published in 1856. Francisco Seitz placed the species in the genus Echinocereus in 1870.
There are no known major threats to the conservation of the species, and its distribution area is quite wide, and it even inhabits areas that are not suitable for economic activities that could pose a risk. It inhabits several protected areas in Mexico and the United States, such as Big Bend National Park in Texas. Based on this, In the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the species is listed as Least Concern (LC), i.e., not endangered.
Indians have long known that the strawberry cacti is nutritious, and contemporary science uses the fruit to cure diabetes.
Rots rapidly, is sensitive to overwatering (rot prone), and requires excellent drainage to avoid rotting. Keep drier and chilly in winter. Full sun is required. For short periods of time, it is very cold resistant above -12C or less.
Flowers and fruits
This plant blooms in early spring (mostly from late March to April, in some regions from May to early June) at mid-morning. Flowers close at night and reopen for a period of 2-4 days. The broadly funnel-shaped flowers are vivid pink to purple-red and appear at a distinct distance from the shoot tips. They are 6 to 12.5 centimeters long and reach the same diameter.
The inner petals have teeth. The inner tepals are a deep red in contrast to the outer tepals. The filaments are 0.8-1 cm long and reddish in color, while the anthers are yellow (the male structures are filament and anther). The crimson style supports the green stigma lobes – typically 10-13 lobes and 8 mm long (usually 2.7 cm long and 2.5 mm thick). Pink borders can be found on the 10-15 outer petals. In late July, the fruits mature.
Big Bend National Park has also recorded uncommon individuals with pure white flowers rather than the usual red color.
Fruit: 20-50 mm round to ovoid pale yellow-green or dull reddish fruit, developing to bright red, pulp white or pale pink. The fruit can be eaten. The green-brown flesh of the fruit can be eaten when the spines are removed, and it tastes similar to strawberry, hence the name strawberry cactus. They are covered with dropping glassy spines. Areoles on dragonfruit can be readily removed.
Seeds: 1–1.4 mm in diameter, black irregular, globular, or ovoid tuberculate.
Propagation: Cuttings that are left out to callus before planting; seeds can also be cultivated.
This cactus lives in hilly to mountainous shrub desert on rocky limestone slopes and volcanic soil in full sun, desert scrub, and pine woodland, making enormous mounds of many stems. It is plentiful and thrives in inaccessible areas that are unsuitable for farming or agriculture.
From March through July, Echinocereus stramineus produces solitary light purple pink funnel-shaped blooms. In the summer, the plants produce fruits. Fruits are edible, with white flesh, resembling strawberries in taste.