Cipocereus bradei


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Cipocereus bradei is exclusively found in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, specifically in the regions of Serra do Cabral and the western slopes of Serra do Espinhaço. Its habitat encompasses six distinct locations, covering an area of approximately 13,000 square kilometers. However, populations of this species are relatively scarce, with only 50 to 200 individuals known to exist.
This cactus thrives at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,200 meters above sea level. It predominantly inhabits the southeastern campo rupestre, characterized by its rugged terrain and crystalline rock formations. Within this habitat, C. bradei shares its living space with other plant species such as Arthrocereus rondonianus, Pilosocereus aurisetus, and the robustly-spined Discocactus multicolorispinus. Hybridization with other members of its genus has also been observed.
However, the survival of C. bradei faces challenges due to habitat degradation caused by mining activities and deliberate fires set for grass management. This is particularly prevalent in the western part of its distribution.


Cipocereus bradei is a cactus that takes on a shrub or tree-like form, with several branches. It is characterized by its black spines, which tend to fade as the stems age. The most distinctive feature, however, is the inflated appearance of the stems, which are a bluish-gray color. The flowers of this cactus bloom at night, displaying pale petals atop fleshy tubes. These flowers eventually give way to dark, round fruits that take on an intense bluish hue due to a thick waxy coating over the watery pulp.
This species is known for its abundant flowering, both in its natural habitat and in cultivation. The blossoms are a striking blue on the outside and white on the inside. Initially described as Pilocereus bradei, it was later referred to as Pilosocereus bradei.
The specific name, “bradei,” pays tribute to the German botanist Alexander Curt Brade (1881-1971) who specialized in the study of orchids and ferns in Brazil and Costa Rica while working at the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro.
The stems of Cipocereus bradei are club-shaped to cylindrical, occasionally slightly narrowed, reaching heights of 1-3.5 meters. They branch out above the ground and are initially bluish-gray, especially when under stress, later becoming a dull gray. These stems, about 8-9 centimeters in diameter, stand upright and resemble a smoother version of Euphorbia abdelkuri. As the stems mature, both the spines and the waxy coating tend to fall off. The stems can be somewhat fragile due to a peculiar, weakly woody vascular structure and the succulent, gel-like tissues. There’s no distinct fertile portion of the stem (lacking a cephalium).
The cactus has 8-9 (-11) ribs, each about 1 centimeter high and up to 2.5 centimeters wide, appearing rounded in cross-section with transverse furrows between the areoles. The areoles are oval, reaching up to 3 millimeters in diameter, initially covered in short white felt that turns blackish with age. They are spaced 20-23 millimeters apart.
The spines can vary and are often absent on older stems. Young areoles may have no or few spines, and if present, they are black or dark reddish-brown. Older areoles may have 5-7 porrect spines. There are usually 1-2 central spines, sharp and black, ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters long, and 4-5 radial spines, brownish and up to 1.5 centimeters long.
Seedlings and young plants have more ribs (about 10) and areoles densely covered in reddish spines.
The flower buds are numerous, often clustered on one side of the stem near the apex, and appear blunt before blooming. The flowers themselves measure up to 6.5-8.0 centimeters in length and 3.5-4.0 centimeters in diameter. The pericarpels and floral tubes are dark glaucous blue and ridged, with a smooth surface except for scattered bract-scales. The outer perianth segments are 9-12 millimeters long and range from dark blue to purplish cream, while the inner segments are 18 millimeters long and white or cream. The anthers measure 2.2-3.0 millimeters, and the style is 45-48 millimeters long, tapering. The stigma lobes number about 10 and are 9 millimeters long.
The fruits are spherical, smooth, uncovered, and intensely glaucous blue, reaching sizes of 4.5 (-5.5) centimeters by 3.5 centimeters in diameter. The seeds are brownish and measure 1.6-1.8 by 1.1-1.2 millimeters.


To ensure your Cipocereus bradei thrives, consider the following cultivation tips:
Provide ample exposure to bright light, preferably direct sunlight. However, ensure the plant is sheltered during the hottest hours of the day.
These cacti thrive in very hot climates and should not be subjected to temperatures below 8-10°C. In temperate climates, it’s advisable to bring them indoors, especially during winter.
Maintain a regular watering schedule: water every 3-4 days in spring and summer, and reduce frequency in autumn. Avoid watering altogether during the dormant period in winter. Allow the soil to completely dry out before each watering to prevent root rot.
Opt for a neutral, light, and well-draining soil. A standard cactus substrate will serve the plant well.
Fertilize approximately once a month in spring and summer using a specific cactus fertilizer.
Cipocereus bradei tends to grow quite quickly, necessitating repotting every 1-2 years. Choose deep pots to accommodate the roots, and exercise caution to protect your hands from the long, rigid thorns, as they can cause injury during handling.


Propagation can be done through either seeds or branch cuttings, but this method is only suitable for specimens that have grown large enough to branch out.


The name “Cipocereus” is derived from their place of origin, Cipó, a province in Brazil, and “Cereus” – a common suffix for tall, columnar cacti resembling candelabras due to their shape. This name reflects the distinct candelabra-like appearance of these cacti.

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