Cleistocactus strausii

Accession Count: 24
Common Name: silver torch cactus, wooly torch cactus
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Family Name: Cactaceae
Botanical Name: Cleistocactus strausii
Sub Species:
This drought tolerant succulent can grow up to ten feet in height and 1-3 feet wide. This plant grows in a columnar, upright form species which branches from the base. Each grey-green succulent stem is covered with many areoles that support four yellow-brown spikes and 20-40 shorter white radial bristles (2). When the cactus is ten or fifteen years old it will grow beautiful three inch long cylindrical burgundy flowers that develop horizontally from the stem (4). The flowers will traditionally be almost closed with just the style and stamens protruding out (2) When pollinated, flower form bright red fruits.
Compound: Cle sp.
Geographic Origin: South America
Ecozone Origin: Neotropic
Biome Origin:
Natural History:
This species is endemic to Bolivia, and Argentina.  Strausii grows naturally on cliffs with rivers at high-altitude of (1)  nine thousand eight-hundred and forty-three feet.(4)
Cultivation Notes:
The ideal condition for this species is  full sunlight, and well drained soils. While drought tolerant, supplemental water during spring and summer will boost growth rate (3) The species is semi-hardy in Tucson, AZ and will experience frost damage at temperatures below 25 ℉.To propagate, grow from seed or take woody stem cuttings. Cuttings should first be allowed to dry on the cut surface before sticking into soilless media. Propagation from seed can be done by direct sow after the last frost.(1)  Silver Torch can become infested with mealybugs and spider mites when mismatched with the conditions of the planting site. Use insecticide soap spray to treat infected plants (4).
Ethnobotany: The silver torch cactus has landscape value as a container plant or outstanding by itself in a landscape. This cactus is pollinated by hummingbirds. It is best suited in a large landscape where is has ample room to grow in height. This species thrives in xeriscaping such as succulent gardens or rock gardens. (4)

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Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 0 - 5 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season:
Flower Season:
Color: Red
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Semi-hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

  1. Anderson, Edward F. The Cactus Family. 1st ed., Timber Press Incorporated, 2001.
Other resources referenced:
  1. Received March 31, 2018.
  2. Received April 1, 2018.
  3. Received April 4, 2018.
  4. Received April 4, 2018.

Cleistocactus strausii