Scientific: Stenocereus thurberi
Common: organ pipe cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: South Arizona into the southern portions of the Sonoran desert in western Mexico.

Pronounciation: Sten-o-SER-e-us THUR-ber-i

Hardiness zones
13 and 17-24 (with soil dryness)
USDA 9 (only in urban areas), 10-11

Landscape Use: Specimen focal point, xeriscape, native plantings.

Form & Character: Upright and clumping, stiff and imposing, striking, arid desert.

Growth Habit: Slow to 25 feet, strong basal branching.

Foliage/texture: Stems to 8 inches thick, ribs 12-19 to 3/4 inch high, areoles brown, glandular, mostly about 1/2 inch apart, spines 14-19, needle shaped, brownish to black rarely 2 inches long; coarse texture.

Flowers & fruits: Nocturnal, white with a faint purplish tinge to 3 inches wide resting on a short peduncle, fruit globose, red with red flesh to 3 inches diameter.

Seasonal color: Flowers in spring and fruit in late spring to early summer.

Temperature: Tolerances of organ pipe are similar to saguaro. Its embraces the heat! Below 27oF it might suffer cold injury. In Phoenix, the urban heat island may just be enough to prevent cold damage, otherwise use in locations with good air drainage.

Light: Full sun, no shade!

Soil: Organ pipe cacti prefer well drained rocky soils. In it's native habitat, its found on upland sites and slopes where water and air drainage are good.

Watering: Little to none. I usually only irrigate the oirgan pipe cactus in my yard only when I'm passing by it with a hose and get a sudden urge to hose it down.

Pruning: None

Propagation: Seed

Disease and pests: Root rot if soil is poorly drained.

Additional comments: Transplants easily but is protected by Arizona law. Organ pipe cactus must only be tranplanted into large open landscape spaces with a clear desert design theme. Dwarf organ pipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi var. littoralis) is a diminuative varietal selection for those smaller desert garden spaces.

Interesting note: Urban heat islands are often maligned as "bad". Here is a case however for the opposite. The Phoenix urban heat island enables local landscape use of this wonderful columnar cactus in an area that would otherwise be north (too cold in winter) of its normal geographic range. Visit Organ Pipe National Monument.