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Peruvian Old Man Cactus

Espostoa lanata

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Espostoa (es-POS-toh-uh) (Info)
Species: lanata (la-NA-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Espostoa lanata var. lanata
Synonym:Cephalocereus lanatus
Synonym:Pilocereus lanatus
Synonym:Cleistocactus lanatus
Synonym:Espostoa laticornua


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


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

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


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

Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer


Unknown - Tell us

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:

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


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

Green Valley, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Hayward, California

Pacific Palisades, California

Thousand Oaks, California

Suwanee, Georgia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 14, 2006, go2glenn from Suwanee, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I rescued this cactus from the dying and/or dead shelf at Home Depot. It has been planted in the ground at my home just north of Atlanta, Ga (zone 7a) for two years. The plant is growing well in a protected corner against a block wall. It gets 6 hours of GA sun each day and little water. I am sure the wall and the gravel I used as mulch has provided a "micro-climate" which has enabled this plant to survive the winter. It has grown about one inch per year but has not bloomed as of yet. One final note. DO NOT TOUCH!!! YIKES!


On Jun 3, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant has nocturnal flowers, 2 inches in diameter, white to purple in late spring, early summer

More synonyms are Espostoa procera, Cereus dautwitzii, Pilocereus dautwitzii, Oreocereus lanatus, Cactus lanatus & Espostoa dautwitzii.
More common names are "Cotton Ball Cactus; Snowball Cactus & Snowball Old Man"


On Mar 9, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Another 'hairy' columnar cactus that is completely covered as a younster, but as ages, you get to see patches of the cactus underneath- somewhat blue-green. Very ornamental species.