Candle cactus (Stenocereus griseus), Parke Nacional Arikok
Papiamento name: yatu/datu
Stenocereus griseus is a large columnar cactus that can reach 9 meters high. It does not produce one trunk with several branches like Subpilocereus repandus; instead it grows separate stems that grow upright. Stems have 7 or 8 ribs and are pale green to pale blue green. The grey-white spines are short and thick and darker at the tips. The flowers are light pink to creamy white. The fruit is dark red and covered with spines. Stenocereus griseus has two distinct features that help differentiate it from Cereus repandus: 1) it grows straight up and only branches when it reaches a certain height, unlike subpilocereus repandus that branches out at ground level; and 2) its thorns are tightly spaced together and make up neat rows of rosettes of 7 to 8 spines, while those of subpilocereus repandus are more dense and stick out in all directions.
Stenocereus griseus blooms at night; the flowers stay open until midday. They are pollinated by bats, moths, hummingbirds and bees; nectar-feeding bats are reported to perform the majority of the pollination. This species of candle cactus grows very slowly; the biggest individuals are probably several hundreds of years old.
Photo credit: Henkjan Kevit (SHAPE/DCNA)
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