Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle/Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castles

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castles’ on 7-19-16, #274-21.

Fairy Castles, Spiny Hedge Cactus, Peruvian Apple

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus

KER-ee-us  hild-man-ee-AH-nus  ur-uh-gway-AN-us


Green Finger, Fairy Castle, Fairytale Castle

Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle’

a-kan-tho-KER(SER)-ee-us   tet-ra-GON-us

There is a long list of synonyms…

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus (R. Kiesling) N.P. Taylor is the correct and accepted scientific infraspecific name for this subspecies of Cereus hildmannianus. It was named and first described as such by Nigel Paul Taylor in Cactaceae Consensus Init. in 1998. Cereus hildmannianus was named and first documented by Karl Moritz Schumann in Flora Brasiliensis in 1890. Cereus uruguayanus was named and first documented by Roberto Kiesling in Darwinian in 1982. However, the same species was named and documented as Piptanthocereus uruguayanus by Friedrich Ritter in Kakteen Südamerika in 1979. BUT, somehow it was all screwed up and wasn’t an accepted name… The 2013 version of The Plant List says it was an unresolved infraspecific name but the new Plants of the World Online says it is now accepted. Thanks, Kew!

Acanthocereus tetragonus (L.) Hummelinck is also a correct and accepted scientific name. It was described by Pieter Wagenaar Hummelinck in Succulenta (Netherlands) in 1938. The species was first named and described as Cactus tetragonus by Carl von Linnaeus in the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus when I bought it on 1-28-16.

I bought this cactus from Wal-Mart on January 28, 2016. I had been there a few days earlier and noticed they had just got in a shipment of cactus and succulents. They were still wrapped in plastic sleeves and drenched with water. I didn’t have money at the time, so I went back on the 28th to see what they had. Believe it or not, the plants were STILL wrapped in their plastic sleeves and STILL soaked with water.

Most cactus I buy from Wal-Mart are small, but this one measured 6 1/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide.

This plant was unlabeled, so instead of trying to figure out what it was, I put photos on a Facebook group for suggestions. One of the members said it was Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus and the common name was Fairy Castles. I checked the name out and believed that was correct. Upon further research when I was updating this page on April 15, 2018, I found something different…

There are many websites that are saying Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle’. So, I checked with Plants of the World Online which does say Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus is an accepted infraspecific name of Cereus hildmannianus. It also says Acanthocereus tetragonus is an accepted name.

The LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says this in the description of Acanthocereus tetragonus cv. Fairytale Castle:

“Fairytale castle”, “Fairy castle” or “Green finger” cactus is the evocative name by which this common succulent plant is marketed and refers to the numerous vertical stems of different heights that resemble spires and turrets. This diminutive cultivars ‘Fairy Castle’ was discovered in cultivation and is a very popular plant often found in the succulent part of the box retail stores. Some expert classify the cactus as a monstrous form of Acanthocereus tetragonus (Acanthocereus floridianus), but the true self of this plant is controversial and some suggest that it may be a form of Cereus hildmannianus or even a dwarf form of Cereus hildmannianus subs. uruguayanus. Whichever scientific name is correct, the plant is a delightful cactus.”


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus-Fairy Castles on 7-19-16, #274-21.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin (species/subspecies): Northeast Argentina, south Brazil, and Uruguay, etc.
Zones: 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Size: 24-36” tall
Light: Light to full shade…
Soil: Very fast draining mix
Water: Average to moderate during growing period


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castles’ on 5-31-17, #339-7. (Notice the baby Walking Stick?).

The ‘Fairy Castles’, or whatever you call it, did well the first summer but started getting weird over the winter. It was turning yellow and I thought it would soon die. I just noticed the baby Walking Stick in this photo as I was updating this page… 🙂


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castles’ on 9-7-17, #371-7.

When I took the above photo I noticed some critters, probably crickets, had been snacking.

According to Plants of the World Online, this subspecies is native to Northeast Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) say it occurs only in Uruguay. The species  Acanthocereus tetragonus has a much wider range. The cultivar ‘Fairy Castles’ or ‘Fairytale Castle’ is concerned, its origin is somewhat controversial. Apparently, it was discovered “in cultivation” which means not in the wild, such as in a nursery or garden.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castles’ on 10-17-17, #384-4.

I bought the potted plants inside for the winter on 10-17-17. I took them to the basement first then moved the cactus and succulents upstairs. As you can see, it looks like this plant is barely hanging on. Even though it looks like it does, it did grow. It measured 6 7/8″ tall x 4″ wide when the above photo was taken.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus on 1-27-18, #407-3.

Well, as you can tell in the above photo, it isn’t dead. It is growing! It has been in my bedroom over the winter and has been looking better. You just have to overlook all the scars from the crickets.

I will continue adding photos and information as time goes by.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


FOR Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle’

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