Monday, September 24, 2007
Gardeners in Central Mexico grow the Polaskia chichipe for its large red fruits. Fruits are sold in markets there, as well as here in Phoenix in some specialty markets catering to Mexican immigrants. They are used in the same way as other cactus pears or fruits, but some folks prefer their sweeter flesh and larger size--more bang for the buck, so to speak. The fruits grow in a column along the edge of the ribs where the spines are located. After the numerous night-blooming, cream-yellow flowers are spent, the fruit forms and it ripens around July.
This columnar cactus can reach a height of 15 feet or more, and it can have many branches as it ages. Since it can’t take our occasional near freezing temperatures, it’s not commonly found in our local gardens unless it can be adequately protected. However, it is popular as a potted cactus in this region.
I have not learned at what age to expect flowers on my P. chichipe, which is now over a foot tall. I purchased this cactus because I like to have a few potted columnar cacti to balance the globular and paddle shaped plants that I have in pots. This P. Chichipe serves that purpose nicely.