Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Blue Columnar Cactus, Facheiro, Facheiro Azul, Mandacarú de Facho
Pilosocereus pachycladus

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pilosocereus (pil-oh-so-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: pachycladus (pak-ee-KLAD-us) (Info)

Synonym:Pilosocereus pachycladus subsp. pachycladus
Synonym:Pseudopilocereus pachycladus
Synonym:Pilosocereus atroflavispinus
Synonym:Pseudopilocereus atroflavispinus
Synonym:Pseudopilocereus azureus

9 members have or want this plant for trade.

Cactus and Succulents

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)
15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)
30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 36 photos.
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5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sherizona On Oct 5, 2012, sherizona from Peoria, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a nice cactus for a splash of unusual color in your arid garden. I have several in the ground as well as a few in planters. Here in AZ (9b) during 115 degree days it stands up just fine with no sunburn. Like PalmBob mentioned once mine get under about 30 degrees they get their tops protected to prevent them from scarring and then branching. After monsoon rains they seem to grow quite fast. These are readily available at nurseries in PHX but most are labelled with the azureus name instead.

Positive Fires_in_motion On Jun 2, 2011, Fires_in_motion from Vacherie, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a beautiful glaucous (bluish-silver) cactus with an elegant habit (growth form) that makes it look like a miniature blue Saguaro. Even the spines are a pretty yellow hue, and are not designed to puncture skin. I like to pet them, personally. Not sure about its cold hardiness, but I'll be bringing it inside for January and February every year. After looking at these for years in stores and wanting one, I finally caved today and got a little 2" tall baby at a CVS drugstore, of all places, mainly out of pity. I have high hopes for this fella, and he will be going into one of my community cactus pots for the next few years. This species is allegedly quite tolerant of rain & humidity, which, if true, would make it one of the best cacti to keep in the Gulf South.

Positive BayAreaTropics On May 26, 2006, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

It is NOT hardy to 10f. If anything, It is more tropical than the common Cereus.

Positive Xenomorf On Feb 11, 2005, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

There are many columnar cacti that are blue, this one is a bluer one. The most 'common' names are "Facheiro, Facheiro Azul & Mandacarú de Facho".
This plant can reach from 7 up to about 30 feet or higher.
The subspecies 'pachycladus' has 5-12 high and broad ribs, Long central spines that can be distuinguished from radial spines. The areoles that bear flowers are extra hairy.
The subspecies 'pernambucoensis' has 13-19 lower thinner ribs, the radial & central spines are about the same length and not easily distinguishable from each other. The areoles that bear flowers are not very hairy.

Other synonyms are:Pilosocereus azureus, Pilosocereus oreus, Pilosocereus splendidus, Pilosocereus superbus, Pilosocereus schoebelii, Pilosocereus cyaneus, Pilosocereus cenepequei, Pseudopilocereus oreus, Pseudopilocereus splendidus & Pseudopilocereus superbus

Positive palmbob On Dec 2, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

according to recent literature, the proper name is now Pilosocereus pachycladus, and azureus is a synonym... and 10 years from now, it will go the other way again? By the way, this cactus grows way taller than 6' ... up to 30' in its native Brazil

By the way, it is not cold tolerant to the mid 20s as Botany Bob asserts (actually, Botany Bob was me in a previous account)... all my Pilosocereus froze when it got down to 25F, though only the tops (protect with styrofoam cups and/or wrap tops with newspaper next time!). Made all my perfect solitary columnar plants into branching plants... not as nice, but I have noticed all Pilosocereus in southern California are branching plants with cold scars on them, so I am not alone.

I am not going to say this is a water-loving cactus, but summer watering only seems to make it grow faster, and it is exceptionally tolerant of high water exposure, at least when hot... not had one rot in winter rains, either, but I don't dare water it even more just to tempt fate.

Neutral BotanyBob On Jun 17, 2001, BotanyBob from Thousand Oaks, CA wrote:

This is one of the most spectacular columnar cacti that can be grown in the warmer, drier areas of the US. It is the most amazing turquoise/ sky blue color. The spines are relatively small and protrude along ridges that run up the plant from top to bottom. As Pilosocereus cacti age, they produce what is called a 'pseudocephalium', where the plant produces thick, soft tufts of orange/white hair (sort-of like that seen in 'old man cacti). This area of the cactus is where the flowers pop out (a relatively rare occurence, at least here in Southern California).

The cold tolerance of this species isn't known, but it can tolerate frost, and some freezing down to the mid 20s briefly, without any harm. Water requirement is minimal, as with most cacti, though it appreciates watering in the warmest months. Most Pilosocereus are from Mexico or Brazil... no information on this one's origin, but suspect Brazil, where the more colorful species grow.

Pilosocereus are excellent pot culture cacti, and therefore can be grown in most areas of the country, if protected from heavy summer rains and winter freezes.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mesa, Arizona
Peoria, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)
Scottsdale, Arizona (2 reports)
Tucson, Arizona
Hayward, California
Mission Viejo, California
Oceanside, California
Reseda, California
San Diego, California
San Leandro, California
Spring Valley, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Valencia, California
Austin, Texas

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