Austrocylindropuntia subulata, Eve's-Pin Cactus, is a large tree-like cactus native to the higher elevations of Ecuador and Peru. In nature, the cactus lives at an elevation of 8000-12000 feet (2400-3600 m). Round cylindrical joints will reach up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 1.5-2.5 inches (4-6.5 cm) thick. Plants will reach about 13 feet (4 m) tall and 10 feet (3 m) wide. They are easily identified by their persistent, nearly cylindrical leaves. Leaves will reach about 3-5 inches (7.5-13 cm) long. New growth rarely has spines, but as the plants age they develop 1-2, 3 inch (7.6 cm) long yellow spines per areole. The plants are easy to grow and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-10.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants rarely bloom, but when they do the bloom the flowers are red 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) long. Blooms are quite showy.
Culture: Austrocylindropuntia subulata need full sun to light shade, with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam and sand. We add small gravel to ensure good drainage. This cactus likes a little more water than other cacti. Plants are regularly watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Regular watering helps to keep the leaves from dropping. We fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, water is restricted and the plants are watered only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling. During this period, we let nighttime temperatures drop to 50° F (10°C). At temperatures lower than this, the leaves will take on a pinkish hue and will eventually drop.
Propagation: Austrocylindropuntia subulata is propagated from cutting and from seed when available.
Austrocylindropuntia subulata was featured as Plant of the Week January 18-24, 2008.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.