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Stenocereus thurberi (Organpipe cactus)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Stenocereus thurberi

Stenocereus thurberi (Engelm.) Buxbaum

Organpipe Cactus, Organ-pipe Cactus

Cactaceae (Cactus Family)

Synonym(s): Cereus thurberi, Lemaireocereus thurberi, Pachycereus thurberi

USDA Symbol: STTH3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This tree-like cactus, 9-20 ft. tall, bears many branches from its short-trunked base. Lavender flowers bloom nocturnally. The red, fleshy fruit is edible.

This cactus branches at the base, which gives the stems the appearance of organ pipes. Since these sentinels of the desert are very sensitive to severe winter frosts, they are found only in the warmest parts of the Sonoran Desert. They do occur in extreme southern Arizona, where they are celebrated at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. In Mexico, the large, delicious fruits are made into a candy called "pitahaya dulce." The nocturnal flowers are beautiful and often attract bats.


From the Image Gallery

31 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Columnar plant 9-20 feet tall, with branches 6 inches across.
Flower: Flower approximately 3 inches long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
Bloom Notes: Diurnal.


Native Distribution: Sonora Desert in AZ & Baja CA
Native Habitat: Deserts to 3000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy or rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Very frost sensitive. Minimum temperature 50F.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Tohono Chul Park, Inc. - Tucson, AZ


Bibref 1140 - Cacti (1991) Clive Innes and Charles Glass

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.5 - Bats as Cacti Pollinators, Fall Foliage Hotlines, Creating Fall Foliage Leafprin...

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2010-10-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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