Echinocereus enneacanthus subsp. brevispinus (Strawberry Cactus) is a cactus with cylindrical stems up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall, that forms…
Origin and Habitat: Echinocereus enneacanthus is common and wide-spread species occuring in central, north and north-east of Mexico (Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Coahuila and Zacatecas), New Mexico, and Texas.
Altitude: (0-)600-1800 metres above sea level.
Habitat: Chihuahuan desert scrub and grasslands, on mineral and sandy-loamy limestone soils, sometimes clay loam soils, on flats, washes or rarely rocky or gravelly slopes. In the same area it is possible to find several cactus species like: Echinocereus stramineus, Echinocereus chisoensis, Echinocereus dasyacanthus, Mammillaria lasiacantha and Lophophora viridiscens. Echinocereus enneacanthus is abundant, and is not affected by any major threats.
Description: Echinocereus enneacanthus is a caespitose cactus forming dense or lax clumps either loose decumbent, or erect with 20-100(-500) branches, usually branching before flowering. There appears to be quite a variation in spination, at least in number and length of spines. Two subspecies are recognized, the nominate form and subsp. brevispinus.
Stems: Cylindrical, the longest sometimes prostrate, 5-14 cm diameter up to over 100 cm long (but usually much shorter). The stems of this species are soft or flaccid, pale to bright green and often remain wrinkled.
Ribs: 7-12 with uninterrupted but prominent warty crests.
Areoles: Circular 18-52 mm apart.
Radial spines: 5-9 per areole, 25-45 mm long, straight or slightly curved, needle-like, more or less flattened, bulbous at the base, brownish, often tipped or banded with darker brown.
Central spines: 1-5 per areole, 55-95 mm long, divergent, porrect, flattened, stout, and slightly curved, opaque, white, tan, brown or grey, often nearly black.
Flowers. Funnelform 7-11 cm in diameter, purple-red to pink in varying shades with deep reddish throat, and diurnal. Filaments greenish to pink. Anthers yellow. Stigma green. Style whitish.
Blooming season: It flowers in early spring (April through June in habitat) during mid-morning. Flowers close at night and reopen for 2-4 days. The fruits ripen in late summer.
Fruit: Round to ovoid pale yellow-green or dull reddish, , maturing to bright red, 20-30 mm, pulp white or pale pink. The fruit is edible. After the spines are removed from the green-brown flesh of the fruit, it can be eaten and tastes similar to strawberry, hence the name strawberry cactus.
Seeds: 1,0-1,4 mm, black irregular, globular, or ovoid tuberculate.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Echinocereus enneacanthus group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Goettsch, B.K., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Heil, K., Terry, M. & Corral-Díaz, R. 2013. Echinocereus enneacanthus. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 16 January 2014.
2) Forrest Shreve, Ira Loren Wiggins “Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert” Volume 1 Stanford University Press, 1964
3) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
4) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
5) David R Hunt Nigel P Taylor Graham Charles International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
6) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton: “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
7) Ulises Guzmán, Salvador Arias, Patricia Dávila "Catálogo de cactáceas mexicanas." Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexiko-State 2003
8) Delena Tull “Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide” University of Texas Press, 1999
9) Brian Loflin, Shirley Loflin “Texas Cacti: A Field Guide” Texas A&M University Press, 26/Oct/2009
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Can be grown as an annual
Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed direct sow after last frost
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
On Nov 9, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
This cactus has a lot of names. It's also called the strawberry cactus. Stems of this species often remain wrinkled. Flower is magenta to pink in varying shades. Fruit is round and approx. 1" in diameter.
On Jun 18, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:
This plant can form clumps with 30 to 200 heads and stems up to over 6 feet long. The fruit has a strwberry flavor.
The subspecies 'enneacanthus' has stems that are 2 to 6 inches thick Long & divergent central spines & curved radial spines up to 1.6 inches long. This subspecies is the most common of the two.
The 'brevispinus' subspecies has stems that are less than 2 inches thick Erect and straight central spines & radial spines that are less than 0.6 inches long.
Other valid synonyms include Echinocereus sarissophorus & Cereus merkeri.
Another common name is 'Purple Pitaya'.