Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Old Man of Mexico, Old Man Cactus, Viejo, White Persian Cat Cactus
Cephalocereus senilis

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cephalocereus (sef-uh-low-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: senilis (SEE-nil-is) (Info)

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Cactus and Succulents

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 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)
over 40 ft. (12 m)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 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:
Bright Yellow
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

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
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
From seed; sow indoors before 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

Click thumbnail
to view:

By palmbob
Thumbnail #1 of Cephalocereus senilis by palmbob

By Sysyfus
Thumbnail #2 of Cephalocereus senilis by Sysyfus

By hanna1
Thumbnail #3 of Cephalocereus senilis by hanna1

By hanna1
Thumbnail #4 of Cephalocereus senilis by hanna1

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #5 of Cephalocereus senilis by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #6 of Cephalocereus senilis by Xenomorf

By Xenomorf
Thumbnail #7 of Cephalocereus senilis by Xenomorf

There are a total of 21 photos.
Click here to view them all!


8 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Dcactuskid On Oct 24, 2014, Dcactuskid from Laredo, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

I really like this cactus and can't find anywhere. If anyone would like to trade or sell and help me out let me know. It would be awesome to own 1 of these cactus in my opinion.

Positive ironhand On Jul 28, 2014, ironhand from Henderson, NV wrote:

The plant was approximately 1.5 inches tall when planted. It is now about 5 feet tall and appears to be bifurcating. Is this normal?

Positive Mr_Monopoly On Feb 4, 2013, Mr_Monopoly from North Olmsted, OH wrote:

This is by far my favorite cactus species. A very slow grower, it's white fuzzy hairs are an eye catcher in any collection.

Positive BayAreaTropics On Oct 7, 2005, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

In the top 5-maybe 3, in the must have cacti,right there with golden barrel and Cereus peruvianus . The girth of the trunk and denseness of the "fur" distinguish it from the also ran's. It might be better to have a grouping of these than the usual one- of's cactus gardens . And when they reach shoulder height they are stunners. Typical cacti care.

Positive hanna1 On Jan 31, 2005, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Also known as 'Old man of Mexico', 'Bunny Cactus', synonym: Cactussenilis & Pilocerous Sennilis. Is from Eastern Hidalgo in Mexico. Soil should be dry. Is a woody plant. Senilis is Latin for Old or aged man. Can be carefully groomed with a comb. Min. temps should be above 50F, and prefers afternoon shade in hotter areas.

Positive Sysyfus On Nov 25, 2004, Sysyfus from Santee, CA wrote:

Enjoyed your photo and description. My in-laws have a 42 year old (I submitted photo, too) cactus of this variety that measures over 17 feet tall. When moved to its current location 32 years ago, it was only about 2 feet tall and only a single member. My wife's father wants to have it removed. Anyone interested? San Diego, CA area.

Positive TucsonJen On Jul 8, 2004, TucsonJen from Tucson, AZ (Zone 9a) wrote:

We call this one the Old Man of Mexico to help distinguish it from a number of other "Old Man" cacti such as Old Man of the Andes (Oreocereus celsianus). Ive never seen one with multiple columns as shown. Very cool.

Mine needs afternoon shade in the summer here in Tucson (so do I!). It is verrrry slow to grow and I am careful not to overwater because it's susceptible to root rot. I think I read that it blooms (white/pink) and bears fruit when it gets to 20 feet. Ill have to take their word for it mine is only about a foot tall, lol!

The white color is a nice contrast in my cactus garden and It gets a lot of attention from visitors.

Positive palmbob On Mar 15, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Can grow very tall, covered with thick white 'hairs' that cover up the spines below (careful). EAsy grower in California, though can get touched by severe frost.


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

Chandler, Arizona
Green Valley, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Castro Valley, California
Hayward, California
Menifee, California
Oak View, California
San Diego, California (3 reports)
San Marino, California
Santee, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Vacaville, California
Tampa, Florida
Henderson, Nevada

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America