A Pereskia grandifolia (Rose Cactus) at
Tohono Chul Park in Tucson

    Native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America, Pereskia is a genus of 25 species of woody stemmed, spinyy, deciduous leaved cacti. Pereskia is the only cactus genus with persistant true leaves, and considered the most primitive of cacti. A sort of missing link between leafed plants and cacti. Some are fairly small and shrubby (To 3 feet or less) and others can grow a substantial trunk and make a small tree to 18 feet tall. Still others are climbers and with the support of a suitable host tree can reach a height of 60 feet. Most species flower prolifically in the summer and flowers can vary in color from white, pink, yellow red or magenta. The flowers resemble roses.
    As Pereskia are not true succulent plants, they need more water and a richer mix than desert cacti. In a climate like mine they also do best in the shade of a tree. They grow quickly and benefit from pruning to keep them compact and shapely. Pereskia can be easily propagated by stem cuttings. Contrary to most cacti they should be potted up right away and kept moist. They will also root in water.     P. grandifolia is the only species I have or expect to have. All I have is a single 12 inch cutting. So I'll use the pics I took at Tohono Chul instead of a pic of mine. It's leafing out nicely in April. It's supposed to get 18 feet tall with an 8 inch trunk. I put the cutting in a 12" pot to give it some room to grow. Hopefully it will be quite some years before it gets that big! Geoff Stein, a fellow member of the Davesgarden.com gardening forums has agreed to let me use some of his pictures. Thanks Geoff :-) Click HERE for a gallery of more of Geoffs pictures.

Closeup showing
spines and leaves
by Geoff
Funky fruit
by Geoff
All images and text are copyright 2005 to present, D.S. Franges, unless otherwise noted.