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)
View this plant in a garden


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


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:

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

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


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

Casa Grande, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona

Green Valley, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Sparkman, Arkansas

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

Las Vegas, Nevada

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 6, 2015, Max64 from Las Vegas, NV (Zone 9a) wrote:

Very very slow growing. Does well in the Vegas heat however does best with partial shade in the afternoon as I've seen it get sunburned at first when I had it planted in full sun. I have since moved it to morning sun and afternoon partial shade. Looks very similar to the Old man of the Andes which does grow faster. Easy grower and loves a bit more water during the hot desert summer however can be prone to root rot during the colder or milder months so less water is recommended.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.