Mexican Giant Cardon, Cardón, Elephant Cactus

Pachycereus pringlei

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Pachycereus (pak-ee-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: pringlei (PRING-lee-eye) (Info)
Synonym:Cereus pringlei
Synonym:Pilocereus pringlei
Synonym:Pachycereus calvus


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


over 40 ft. (12 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)


USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

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



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 softwood cuttings

From semi-hardwood cuttings

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

Gilbert, Arizona

Mesa, Arizona (2 reports)

Phoenix, Arizona (2 reports)

Queen Creek, Arizona

Safford, Arizona

Amesti, California

Encinitas, California

Hayward, California

San Diego, California (2 reports)

Thousand Oaks, California

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 5, 2015, debylutz from San Diego, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This cactus is beautiful and a great substitute for the slow-growing saguaro in a US southwestern desert-type drought-tolerant landscape. When watered regularly, it has a fast growth rate and branches at a young age. However, it is intolerant of frost and must have even watering. If it dries out, then gets a lot of water all at once, the stem will split. And it has wicked spines. My potted specimens have 3 to 4-inch long needle-sharp ones.


On Sep 22, 2012, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

This is my second planting. The first did well for years..and 8" plants reached 24". But,there were many other large succulents around it..and I went many summer months without watering it. It died from lack of water and from too much competition. The second planting has only low growing C&S around it.
I have seen here in the bay area Cardons of 4-5' and a nice girth. Those must be around 20 years old.
A nice change from the usual Cereus cacti sold everywhere.


On Sep 12, 2008, AarronIkarus from Onalaska, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is a native to the Baja California/Sonora region. Younger plants do well in shade, but the older ones tend to be bigger than the plants around them.


On Aug 25, 2006, oceanmystic from San Diego, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have a 3' tall Cardon that started as a cutting given to me about 10 years ago. It sat in the pot for four years without growth and without loss of mass. I almost gave the plant away when it suddenly started to grow. It showed signs of growth for one year (redness of new needles) and I have been getting about six inches of growth per year since then.
It shows no damage from the coastal humidity in Encinitas but is happier now in much drier Lemon Grove .


On Nov 23, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

Propagation from seeds are easier than cuttings. There is Zero foliage on all the Pachycereus's. The flowers are open both night and day. Additional popular common names include: Cardón Gigante; Cardón Pelón; Sagueso; & Sahuaso.


On Aug 24, 2004, albleroy from Wavre/ greenhous +/- 2500 species, IA wrote:

Is a very decorative plant, in my garden (Can. Islands) every year I have flowers on different plants, fruits start to form, but never I have adult fruit with seeds. See photo added


On Aug 5, 2004, sonotaps from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I have a few cardons in my yard here in Phoenix, AZ. Cardons grow MUCH faster than their Arizona cousin, the Saguaro (I have 4-5 in my yard), which grows painfully slow. The blue green coloring is also distinctly different, as well as their propensity to branch lower and become more 'massive' than the saguaro. They are spiny when young, but they have fewer ribs than the saguaro and the spines eventually disappear when the plant gets mature. Cardons are more cold sensitive than the saguaro, but I don't have to do all that much in terms of protecting them where I am in NE Phoenix. Cardon Cacti survive more humid conditions that would prove problematic for the saguaro.

Like most cacti, they like good drainage and don't mind extra water in the summer, especially here in Phoeni... read more


On Feb 16, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Great columnar cactus that grows up to 70' tall! Looks remiscent of a Saguaro cactus but thinner. Native of Mexico.