Stenocereus griseus (also called Cereus griseus, Cereus gummosus, Lemaireocereus griseus, Neolemaireocereus griseus, Rathbunia grisea, Ritterocereus griseus, Cereus eburneus, Cereus deficiens, Lemaireocereus deficiens, Ritterocereus deficiens, Stenocereus deficiens, Rathbunia deficiens) comes from the coast of Venezuela in the Falcon-Lara complex, where it lives in its natural environment. Also in the dry areas of Táchira, Mérida, and the islands near them, but now it grows on its own after was imported as a crop in Mexico (Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potos, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatán), Colombia, the Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire), Curacao.
Stenocereus griseus lives in Prosopis-filled tropical deciduous forest and xerophyllous scrub. The species is found all over, there are a lot of them, and they are not in danger. It also grows in large numbers in the drier parts of the Caribbean Rim, where the plants can grow up to 10 m tall and form thickets. It grows both wild and in gardens in the desert scrub of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. It is so common that it is almost like a weed. The plants are also often grown near homes and gardens, and they are tolerated on agricultural land, which means that the plants are left when the land is cleared for farming.
Generic name derived from the Greek words: “στενός” (stenos) for “tight, narrow” and refers to the relatively narrow ribs of plants and cereus for “candle, candle”. Griseus: latin epithet meaning “gray-colored”.
|Range:||Northern S. America - Colombia, Venezuela to Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean|
|Cultivation status:||Wild / cultivated|
|Edibility rating:||3 out of 5|
|Other uses:||2 out of 5|
This plant is a 3- to 10-meter-tall cactus that looks like a tree. It sometimes has branches at the base and sometimes has a clear trunk. In dry northern habitats, this species grows as a multi-stemmed shrub with 5–20 branches 3–6 meters high. In Caribbean deciduous forest, however, it grows as a columnar arborescent cactus that is 10 meters tall.
Stenocereus griseus is a type of cacti that is also called the Mexican organ pipe, dagger cactus, pitaya, pitahaya and pitayo de mayo.
In warm places, it is planted as a decoration and as a living fence. Because it is spiny, animals can’t get through it when it is used as a “fence”.
The first description as Cereus griseus was made in 1812 by Adrian Hardy Haworth. Franz Buxbaum placed the species in the genus Stenocereus in 1961.
The Stenocereus griseus species complex (SGSC) has been known for a long time as a group of taxa that is hard to figure out. Stem and flower shape, triterpene content, and other traits show that the species in the complex are very similar. Gibson thought about the complex’s wide range: S. griseus from northern Mexico to coastal Venezuela, S. deficiens in coastal Venezuela, S. pruinosus in southern Mexico, S. longispinus in southern Mexico, S. laevigatus in southernmost Mexico and northern Guatemala, and S. hystrix in the Greater Antilles.
Gibson pointed out that these taxa have a lot in common with each other in terms of how they look and where they live, and that this could be caused by humans. In fact, Bravo-Hollis suggested that people may have brought S. griseus to northern Mexico from Venezuela. It can live in USDA cold hardiness zones 9b-11.
The species is listed as “Least Concern” in CITES Appendix II. Its number of people is thought to be stable.
The flowers bloom in the spring, and then the big, tasty dragonfruit grows, which the locals love. The fruits are almost round to oblong and are classified as “dehiscent fleshy fruits“. They have a diameter of about 5 cm, are spiny, and are edible, with blood-red or greenish-white pulp. S. griseus almost always makes either red or white fruits.
Stenocereus griseus is widely used as food and drinks for people (roasted “buds”, fresh fruits, or fermented fruit juice), feed for goats, living fences, building material, water purifier, medicine, and as an ornamental plant.
Also its fruits are important to the environment because they are eaten by insects, reptiles, birds, bats, and mammals that can’t fly. From the point of view of seed dispersion syndromes, this species is interesting because its pulp can be two different colors in the same population: blood red and greenish white. These colors correspond to ornithochory syndromes (seeds spread by birds) and chiropterochory syndromes (seeds spread by bats).
The amount of water, glucose, fructose, sucrose, non-structural carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids in both types of fruit was measured and compared to how seed dispersers have changed. For the traits that were looked at, there were no statistical differences between red and white fruits. According to omithochory syndrome, the fruit pulp of S. griseus can be thought of as having very little “energy” because it has more hexoses than sucrose.
The flower buds are pointed or rounded at the top, and they are covered with brown scales that overlap. The flowers have a broad funnel shape with pinkish outer perianth segments that are bent back and white inner perianth segments that stick out. The style sticks out before the flower opens.
Stenocereus griseus blooms in the spring, and its flowers open at night but stay open until noon. It doesn’t take too long for the flowers to turn into fruit. Fruits grow from flowers that have been pollinated (~40 to 50 days). Flower development, on the other hand, happens at different times. Namely, flowers in the early stages of differentiating, flowers that have already opened, and young dragon fruits that are still growing can all happen at the same time. The fact that flowers and fruits grow at different times may be especially helpful when the environment is not ideal for this plant.
Seeds and cuttings
Stenocereus griseus seeds are easy to germinate and grow, and they stay alive for a year after being stored. Four days after sowing, 90 to 100% of the seeds have germinated. As long as the seeds are in the pulp, they can’t grow, but germination is high for seeds that have been cleaned.
The seeds need light to grow, and the germination rate is slightly higher at high temperatures (35°C and 40°C) and lower at 20°C. As the plant grows, slowly remove the glass cover and keep the air moving.
Young plants should not be in full sun. To make a cutting, twist off a piece of a branch, let it dry for a couple of weeks, lay it on the ground, and stick the end of the stem partway into the ground. Try to keep the cutting a little bit upright so the roots can grow down.
In conclusion, the S.griseus is a unique and interesting cactus. The cactus has many uses, including as a food source, as a decoration, and as a medicine. The cactus is also known for its ability to survive in harsh conditions.