Cephalocereus senilis


Cactus bradypus
Cactus senilis
Cephalophorus senilis
Cereus senilis
Echinocactus senilis
Echinocactus staplesiae
Pilocereus senilis


Cephalocereus senilis is native to Mexico. It grows in xerophile scrubs in calcareous canyons (from the limestone hills of states of Hidalgo to Veracruz).


Cephalocereus is a columnar, erect cactus. It grows an individual or basally branching stem up to 10 m high. Stem is light to bright green, intensely ribbed. When it gets 6 m high, it starts to produce from the top a pseudocephalium: this is a dense, white hairy mass developed by the flowering areoles. Young cactus present a conspicuous silvery-white coat, that older plant lose aging; anyway, hairs are modified spines, and hide sharp yellow central spines. After 10-20 years of life, flowers may bloom on the pseudocephalium: they are nocturnal, in a red, yellow or white colour.


Cephalocereus is an easy-to-grow cactus. It needs a fertile, well drained soil mix, and a regular, aboundant watering: let the soil get dry before watering again. Feed it monthly with a balanced fertilizer: the Cephalocereus will grow fast and healthy with a good amount of water and regular feeding during summer. If grown outside, it will need full sun exposure; inside,  bright light with some direct sun. During winter, let it in a total rest in a cool luminous place. Avoid temperatures lower than 10°C (but it is theoretically hardy to 0 °C).


Propagation can be done by cuttings or by seeds. Seeds need high humidity leves, a well-draining soil and a good amount of water and light to germinate fast.


Cephalocereus senilis owes its name to its white hairy pseudocephalium, which makes it look like an old man.

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