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Pachycereus schottii (Engelm.) D.R. Hunt

Señita cactus, old man cactus

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyCactaceaeSucculent (water-storing) plants, often spiny
SpeciesschottiiAfter Arthur Carl Victor Schott (1814-1875), one of the naturalists of the Mexican Boundary Survey

About plant names...

Old man cactus is native to southwestern North America—Arizona, and Baja California and Sonora in Mexico.

Identification: Señita grows up to 12′ (3.7 m) high, with stems 4-8″ (10-20 cm) in diameter. Near the bottom of the columns, the areoles (bumps which produce the spines) are 1/16-3/16″ (3-5 mm) around, producing 1-15 spines 1/16-¼″ (2.5-7.6 mm) long. On the upper part of the columns, areoles are ¼-½″ (7.6-15 mm) around. Each areole includes 20-75 spines 1-4″ (3-10 cm) long. It is these long, white, hairlike spines the give the cactus its common names. Flowers are cream-colored to bright pink, about 1½″ (3.8 cm) across. Flowers usually bloom at night. Fruits are small, spiny red berries, which are edible. (Note: there is another old man cactus too!)

Online References:



The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Forest and Kim Starr’s Starr Environmental site

The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum Sonoran Desert Digital Library


Pachycereus schottii (señita cactus, old man cactus)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Ari­zona · ≈ 2 × 1½′ (67 × 45 cm)

Cereus schottii Engelm.

Lophocereus schottii (Engelm.) Britton & Rose


Pachycereus schottii description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Pachycereus schottii (señita cactus, old man cactus)

5/24/2009 · Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Ari­zona · ≈ 3½ × 2½″ (9.3 × 6.2 cm)

Pachycereus schottii (señita cactus, old man cactus)

5/25/2009 · Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, Ari­zona · ≈ 4½ × 7′ (1.5 × 2.2 m)

Range: Zones 9-10:

About this map...