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 with 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 cactus are similar to saguaro. It embraces the heat! Below 27oF though it can suffer cold injury. In Phoenix, the urban heat island might 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 its native habitat, organ pipe cactus is found on upland sites and slopes where water and air drainage are good.

Watering: Little to none.

Personal watering note: I usually irrigate the organ 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. Check out this crested form!!

Interesting note: Urban heat islands are often maligned as "bad". But here is a case 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 viable range.

Travel recommendation: I highly recommend a visit to the stark and beautiful Organ Pipe National Monument in far southern Arizona.