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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Pilocereus palmeri – Old Man Cactus (seed)

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Pilosocereus palmeri inhabits tropical deciduous forest, xerophyll scrub, and submontane forest. It germinates in the shade of plant canopies and in soil-filled rock crevices than in flat open areas. It is mainly bat-pollinated although to a lesser degree, diurnal visitors also caused some fruit set. It is partially self-compatible but unable to set fruit without visitors. The habitat of Pilosocereus palmeri is home to succulent flora and is particularly rich in local endemics such as: Acanthocereus pentagonus, Selenicereus pteranthus, Opuntia puberula and many other. It is widespread and common but threatened by localised small-scale deforestation for cattle and agriculture. Pilosocereus palmeri is is one of the several morphological or local forms of Pilosocereus leucocephalus. It is a beautiful and well known tree-like cactus that hardly needs an introduction, with its blue ribbed stem tufted in thick silky wool from which near the tops emerge short, funnel-shaped, flesh-coloured blooms. It flowers on and off throughout the growing season. The only drawback here is that the flowers have a very strong, foul smell. It is a popular plant even with non-cereus-minded growers. It is a variable species and most plants found in cultivation labeled Pilosocereus palmeri look totallly unalike, some are a pale blue, some are a deep turquoise blue-green, some are a dull, dark greyish blue-green. Some are branched while others are solitary columns. About the only thing they all have in common is largish tufts of ‘hair’ near the tops, a condition certainly not unique to this species (From Encyclopaedia of Cacti).

Care and Cultivation of Pilocereus palmeri

We now use the Takeaway Tek for germinating most cacti seeds. Click here to view the Takeaway Tek. Otherwise, follow the directions below or use you own special tek.

Seed should be sown in a sterile cacti mix, either in terracotta pots or plastic, people either prefer one or the other. Cover the seed very lightly with mix and mist the surface to settle the soil and seeds. Cover with a humidity dome or plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot in 50% shade. Fluctuating temperatures are best (ie. high day temperature and low night temperature). Seedlings will emerge in 7-21 days and can be grown in the same environment for a number of months. Mist or bottom water when the soil is almost dry.

As they get older the watering can become deeper and more frequent. Potting up can be done when 5-10mm in diameter or after 6-8 weeks at a minimum. Keep in part-shade until large enough to deal with full-sun.

25 seeds per packet


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