Organ Pipe Cactus, Pitayo Dulce, Mehuele

Stenocereus thurberi

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stenocereus (sten-oh-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: thurberi (THUR-ber-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Stenocereus thurberi subsp. thurberi
Synonym:Cereus thurberi
Synonym:Pilocereus thurberi
Synonym:Marshallocereus thurberi
Synonym:Rathbunia thurberi


Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

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)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)


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


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

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds


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



Ajo, Arizona

Gilbert, Arizona

Goodyear, Arizona

Green Valley, Arizona

Hereford, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona (3 reports)

Tucson, Arizona

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Feb 12, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- The Organ Pipe Cactus in my garden was planted as a single stem about 3 inches tall and is now, 20+ years later, about 6 feet tall with three stems. It nominally gets only precipitation, but is in a bed raised only three feet above areas that receive every-other-week flood irrigation from March-November, and now presumably taps into that extra water. It has not yet bloomed. When it was small I capped it with a Styrofoam cup in winter, but it now gets no protection and has never shown freeze damage, even into the low 20s F.


On Aug 30, 2004, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The basic story goes with the origin of the term "Organ Pipe" (and one can find the same info in just about every Stenocereus thurberi reference) is that the plant 'Looks Like' and 'Resembles in appearance to' what the pipes of an musical organ. This just happens to be the first one & certianly the most famous species that was named this.
Other "musical organ pipe-type looking" cacti, called columnars, are sometimes called organ pipes.
Other common names are: Mehuelé & Órgano Marismeña.

The 'thurberi' subspecies reaches a height of 26ft with 6 to 8 inch thick stems. The fruit is edible.
The 'littoralis' subspecies is much smaller only reaching 10 feet high with 2 to 3 inch thick stems. It occurs naturally only on the southern tip of Baja California Sur.... read more


On Jun 12, 2004, KactusKathi from Goodyear, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

There has been some confustion here as to whether the bloom that I added is that of an organ pipe or an easter lily cactus. Let me assure all of you that the bloom is indeed that of a organ pipe which I grew from a pup in my back yard. The bloom does not look in any way like that of an easter lily cactus. For one thing the bloom was approx 6" to 7" across with a hint of pink on the edge.