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Echinocereus pentalophus (Ladyfinger cactus)
Smith, R.W.

Echinocereus pentalophus

Echinocereus pentalophus (DC.) Lem.

Ladyfinger Cactus, Alicoche, Dog Tail, Devil's Fingers

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)


USDA Symbol: ECPE2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Echinocereus pentalophus is primarily a Mexican species, but its range extends to far south Texas, along the coast around Brownsville, inland along the Rio Grande to McAllen and north towards Corpus Christi. The narrow green stems, one inch or less in diameter, have 5 (sometimes 4) ribs, with evenly-spaced clusters of 4 to 7 short white or yellowish spines, one of which is a little longer and more central. The plant branches profusely, the stems growing sideways along or close to the ground, becoming several feet long, and they produce many large pink flowers - sometimes nearly 6 inches across, in late spring, followed by green fruits. There are several varieties (in Mexico) which have shorter, more upright stems.

Description provided courtesy of The American Southwest.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Inflorescence: Terminal
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Stems weak, sprawling, becoming decumbent, up to about 2 feet long.
Flower: Flowers 3 to 5 inches (7-12 cm).
Fruit: Green with white pulp.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May
Bloom Notes: The pink or magenta flowers have white-yellow throats and only occur for a short period in spring. Although the display lasts only a week or two, the profusion of pink flowers is extremely striking. The flowers are 3 to 5 inches long (7-12 cm).


Native Distribution: Texas and East-central Mexico
Native Habitat: Agave-Lechuguila thorn scrub and grassy, rocky plains.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Fine soils.


Use Ornamental: Cactus or xeric plant garden.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Seed Treatment: Sow on surface

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1273 Collected 2009-05-19 in Hidalgo County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Webref 15 - The American Southwest (1994) John Crossley

Additional resources

USDA: Find Echinocereus pentalophus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Echinocereus pentalophus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Echinocereus pentalophus


Record Modified: 2023-02-07
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