Monday, September 24, 2007

Polaskia chichipe

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.


kate said...

I like the name of this cactus... I imagine the flowers are quite beautiful.

I left a note on suggesting that you might help with some cacti identification. I think you'd enjoy this blog too!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Gardening where you live will be hard to do without cacti. They won't grow where I live as it is much too wet and too cold as well. However, my mother grows them on her kitchen windowsill and with much succes as they all flower for her, year after year. No fruit though, which is a pity as they are so tasty.

Anonymous said...

Just purchaced polaskia chichipe for two dollors. It is fall in Oklahoma, we have native cold hardy cacti in our oak woods that live year around. Summer are more like cental Mexico. So this plant will live outside April to November. Like my other zone 9ers, it will live in my greenhouse over winter. Insito domestication is an interesting bit of history this catus has. I enjoyed as a child in California the cacti fuits of Opuntia Indica each year. I have suceeded in getting Indica to grow out side here thrugh the year. I hope my situation allows /Chichepi to bloom. Also, I do have horitcultual lights and control of night periods. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Lon W. said...

Just got this cactus at Lowe's here in Vegas. Guess it will stay indoors because of our rare frost. Looks neat to me. Just found this blog and am glad it is here for my secondary research about the cactaceae included in my garden. Have found three "common" names: Chichipe, Chichibe, Chichituna. Have noticed "tuna" in the third common name;noticed tuna in a few different cactus common names.