Organ Pipe

(Stenocereus thurberi)

An Organ Pipe cactus among other cacti in the specimen beds at Sunnylands Center and Gardens.

In the specimen beds between the café and the solar field, you will find the columnar Organ Pipe cactus. There are three in the bed closest to the café. Their flesh is dark green with red spines at the crown that turn gray down the column.

Another night-blooming giant, the Organ Pipe’s numerous branches can reach up to 26 feet. Its flowers are funnel-shaped and a pale cream color. The blooms open at night dispersing the scent of nectar that attracts moths and bats. Some come for the nectar and others for fruit—both exist simultaneously as the bloom period progresses. Insectivore species of Pallid Bat can be found hunting the pollinating moths foraging within the fruit. By late morning, the blooms close and the diurnal pollinators move in to take their turn as the day heats up and the fruits begin to ferment.

Distribution in Mexico includes Sonora, Baja California Sur, and Sinaloa. Arizona hosts the only wild range of this cactus in the United States, where it is designated as a national monument and UNESCO biosphere reserve.


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