Lophocereus schottii was transferred to Pachycereus (as Pachycereus schottii (Engelm.) D.R.Hunt) in 1987. However, a more recent study in 2009 by Arias &Terrazas [
] has proposed returning this taxon to Lophocereus, a treatment we are following here.
Cereus mieckleyanus Weing.
Cereus palmeri F.A.C.Weber
Cereus sargentianus Orcutt
Cereus schottii Engelm.
Lemaireocereus mieckleyanus (Weing.) Borg
Lophocereus australis Britton & Rose
Lophocereus mieckleyanus (Weing.) Backeb.
Lophocereus sargentianus (Orcutt) Britton & Rose
Pachycereus schottii (Engelm.) D.R.Hunt
Pilocereus sargentianus Orcutt ex K.Schum.
Pilocereus schottii (Engelm.) Lem.
Common Name: Senita
Lophocereus schottii is a very spiny, leafless, tree-like cactus, usually growing around 2 - 4 metres tall (occasionally to 7 metres) and usually branching only at the base. These basal branches often form roots, the plant thus spreading to form clonal colonies, sometimes with as many as 50 - 100 stems[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. The stems are highly esteemed in Mexico for medicinal purposes, especially stems with five ribs, and considerable quantities are harvested for personal and commercial purposes. The fresh as well as dried star-shaped cross-sections of the stems are widely sold in herbal shops in many parts of Mexico[
]. The plant is grown as an ornamental in semi-arid regions.
Lophocereus schottii is widespread and abundant, with no evidence of marked systematic declines in spite of some localized threats. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2017)[
Southwestern N.America - Arizone, northwest Mexico (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora)
Dunes, stream shores, thin soil, rocky foothills and desert scrub; at elevations up to 800 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Lophocereus schottii is a plant of arid and semi-arid regions of southwest N. America, growing where temperatures do not generally fall below 0°c[
]. In regions with dry or moderately dry winters some forms of this plant (especially those from Arizona) are known to tolerate short periods with temperatures falling as low as -9°c, though in general temperatures below -4°c are likely to cause severe damage or death[
Requires a sunny position in a well-drained, circumneutral soil[
The plant flowers for much of the year, the fruit ripening in as little as one month after flowering[
The flowers usually open just after sunset and close before or soon after dawn[
There is an obligate relationship between this cactus and a pyralid moth, Upiga virescens. The female moths collect
pollen on specialized abdominal scales and actively deposit pollen on the stigma, and deposit a single egg in each pollinated flower. The larvae feed on the developing fruits, preventing seed set in individual fruits, but enough flowers escape predation to produce significant numbers of fruits and seeds[
Seedling establishment among the northern populations of this species is a rare event and clonal propagation from the stems is a more common occurrence[
Fruit - raw[
]. Eaten when fully ripe[
]. A bright red, fleshy pulp[
]. The red, ovoid to globose fruit is around 20 - 40mm in diameter, it occasionally has spines[
Lophocereus schottii is a popular herbal treatment in Mexico and is widely sold in herbal shops there. Five-ribbed stems, which are the sterile or juvenile growth, are preferred snce these are thicker, softer, (more flaccid and much juicier), and not as tough as the fertile parts of the stem that have a higher number of ribs.
Five-ribbed stems are used in remedies to treat a number of conditions including diabetes, TB, stomach ulcers, and cancer, and also as a remedy for falling hair (evita la caida pelo), as a tonic for blood circulation (circulación de la sangre)[
Applied externally, it is used to treat wounds and sores[
As a common preparation, a cross section of the stem, about 20mm thick, is cooked in about one litre of water until it boils. This liquid is then drunk through the day as one would drink water)[
Several medicinally active compounds have been isolated from the stems and the complete plant. These include the alkaloids isoquinoline, lofocerin and pilocerein; the triterpenes lofenol and lupeol; and the sterol scoenol[
An ethanolic extract obtained from the plant has shown cytotoxic activity on human carcinoma cells 9KB and antitumor properties in mice with leukemia-P388 when administered intraperitoneally, thus supporting the traditional uses of the plant[