10 julio, 2024

Cardón: characteristics, habitat, distribution, care

He teasel (Pachycereus pringlei) is a cylindrical columnar arborescent cactus that is part of the Cactaceae family. It is native and restricted to the desert areas of the state of Sonora in Mexico and Baja California in the United States.

This species of cactus can exceed 15 meters in height and is therefore known as the great cardon, as it is the tallest cactus in the world. In addition, it is the longest-lived cactus on the planet, since it can live for two to three centuries.

Cardón is a highly branched perennial tree producing a stem that can measure up to 1 meter in diameter. This species is trioecious, indicating that there may be monoecious, dioecious, and hermaphrodite individuals. It is also tetraploid, thus managing to break the barriers of self-incompatibility for hermaphrodite and dioecious individuals.

Pachycereus pringlei It is frequently established in alluvial lands with deep soils, grouping into ecological units called cardonales. However, it also establishes itself on rocky slopes and even on saline soils, although to a lesser extent.

This cactus grows very slowly, a few centimeters per year; and the reproductive period begins with the production of flowers, after a state of dormancy. The propagation in this species is carried out by seeds, although it can also be propagated vegetatively by cuttings.




Pachycereus pringlei It is a perennial cylindrical columnar cactus, which can measure up to 20 meters in height and has numerous buttresses. The tree is decurrent with a large stem that contains, in turn, numerous erect stems that are often branched. In addition, the main stem can measure 100 cm in diameter.


The flowers arise from the tips of the stems on the margin of the buttresses, one per areole during the day or night. Each flower is 4-12 cm in length, and is broadly cylindrical or funnel-shaped. The ovary and floral tube are covered by numerous footpods.

In turn, the floral tube is thickened, and is half the length of the flower. The perianth is short, its parts expanding away from the tube, and the coloration varies from white to ivory. Meanwhile, the stamens are numerous, especially in large flowers. The style has several lobes above the level of the stamen.


It has been determined that the field proportion of individuals with female, male, and hermaphrodite flowers is 0.43, 0.29, and 0.25, respectively. In addition, the details of the reproduction of P. pringlei indicate that the anthers of female flowers lack pollen.

The large ovary of the male flowers is devoid of ovules. Hermaphroditic flowers are self-compatible and inbreeding depression in hermaphroditic flower progeny is very low. Also, there are more male flowers that produce more pollen overnight per season than hermaphroditic flowers, and female flowers produce more fruits and seeds per season than hermaphroditic flowers.

according to quantity pollen and seed annual, the fertility of male and female flowers is relatively higher than that of hermaphroditic flowers. While in the absence of pollen limitation, female flowers produce almost three times as many seeds as hermaphroditic flowers.


During the night, pollination is carried out by bats of the genus Leptonycteris, since its flowers open at night. While, during the day, pollination is carried out by bees and birds before closing them (early hours of the morning).

The pollination made by bats in hermaphroditic and female flowers brings with it a production of almost 89% fruit. In contrast, fruit formation depends on the amount of pollen in female flowers, but not in hermaphrodites.


The immature fruit is globular, 1-2 cm wide, and presents numerous bronze or golden trichomes, which cover the pericarp as a thin layer.

While the ripe fruit is globular or ovoid, 4 to 8 cm wide, with golden spines. long and with trichomes. The fruit is covered in groups of golden spines that disappear when ripe. The pulp is red and the fruit splits when dry into apical openings.


The seeds are glossy and black, 2 to 4.5 cm long, with a prominent raphe, oblique thread, and a thin integument.


– Kingdom: Plantae.

– Subkingdom: Viridiplantae.

– Infra kingdom: streptophyte.

– Super division: Embryophyte.

– Division: Tracheophyte.

– Subdivision: Euphyllophytin.

– Infra division: Lignophyte.

– Class: Spermatophyte.

– Subclass: Magnoliophyte.

– Superorder: Caryophyllanae.

– Order: Caryophyllales.

– Family: Cactaceae.

– Subfamily: Cactoideae.

– Tribe: Pachycereeae.

– Gender: Pachycereus.

– Species: Pachycereus pringlei.

Habitat and reproduction

Pachycereus pringlei It is an arborescent cactus that colonizes most of the regions of the Sonoran desert. It is distributed to a large extent over the territory of the lower peninsula of California, the central and coastal region of the state of Sonora, and all the islands of the Gulf of California.

The cardon is established regularly on alluvial terrain with deep soils, grouping into ecological units designated as cardonales. The main biotic communities are distributed as mosaics within a broad continuum of the littoral scrub.

This cactus is located in the southern areas and regions of Puerto Lobos, Sonora and on some islands, particularly Cholludo Island. It is also located in coastal areas near the edge of the desert.


Pachycereus pringlei It is a cactus with multiple requirements for its establishment.


Cardon needs a lot of direct sunlight, so it is recommended to plant it in open spaces.


Since it is a plant that establishes itself in very dry places, excess water can cause damage, especially to the root system.


The ideal temperature to keep Pachycereus pringlei it should be similar to the temperature fluctuations of the Sonoran desert.


The cardón develops on rocky soils. Also, if you want to grow it from a pot, it is important to take soil from the natural areas where it is established, since this plant is associated with certain microorganisms that facilitate the intake of nutrients.


Although not necessary, a little commercial fertilizer won’t hurt.


Delgado-Fernández, M., Escobar-Flores, J., Franklin, K. 2017. The giant cardón (Pachycereus pringlei) and its interactions with fauna in the Baja California peninsula, Mexico. University Act, 27 (5): 11-18
Felger, RS, Lowe, CH1976. The island and coastal vegetation and flora of the northern part of the gulf of California. Natural History Museum of the Los Angeles County
Fleming, TH, Maurice, S., Hamrick, JL 1998. Geographic variation in the breeding system and the evolutionary stability of trioecy in Pachycereus pringlei (Cactaceae). Evolutionary ecology, 12 (3): 279-289.
Gibson, AC, Horak, KE 1978. Systematic anatomy and phylogeny of mexican columnar cacti. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 65 (4): 999-1057
Medel-Narváez, A. 2008. Ecological and genetic study of cardon (Pachycereus pringlei) in the Sonoran desert. PhD thesis at the Center for Biological Research of the Northeast.
Murawski, DA, Fleming, TH, Ritland, K., Hamrick, JL 1994. Mating system of Pachycereus pringlei: an autotetraploid cactus. Heredity, 72: 86-94
The taxonomicon. (2004-2019). Taxon: Genus Pachycereus (A. Berger) NL Britton & JN Rose (1909) (plant). Taken from: taxonomicon.taxonomy.nl
World of succulents. (2013). How to grow and care for Pachycereus. Taken from: worldofsucculents.com

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