Green Finger, Fairytale Castle, Barbed Wire Cactus, Etc.
Acanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle’
Not to be confused with the Fairy Castles cactus (Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus). They are two separate species.
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.
Acanthocereus (Engelm. ex A.Berger) Britton & Rose is the correct and accepted scientific name for this genus. It was named and described as such by Nathaniel Lord Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose in Contributions from the United States National Herbarium in 1909. Georg (George) Engelmann and Alwin Berger previously named the genus in 1905 but put it in a subsection of Cereus. Actually, Engelmann probably named it at a previous date then Berger published the name with Engelmann’s description in the Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1905. (That’s why there is an ex between the two authors names).
Plants of the World Online by Kew currently list 12 accepted species of Acanthocereus.
I picked this Acanthocereus tetragonus up at Wagler’s Greenhouse in September 2018. I think I had one of these in 2015, which I think also came from Wagler’s which was also unnamed. I gave up most of my plants a few years ago, so out it went. So, I decided to bring this one home.
I always measure the cactus when I bring them inside for the winter. So, on October 10 (2018) this plant measured 3″ tall x 2″ wide.
Origin: The species is native to Florida &Texas in the United States, Mexico, northern South America, Panama…
Zones: USDA Zones (° F)
Size: Ummm… The species can grow quite tall in the wind, but the cultivar remains much smaller.
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Well draining soil. Potting soil amended with grit, pumice or perlite.
Water: Average water needs during the growing season, barely in winter.
There is a little confusion between the two cactus with the common names Fairy Castles and Fairytale Cactus. The name Fairy Castles belongs to Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus. I do a lot of plant name research (because I am nuts) and at least one database previously said that Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus was a synonym of Acanthocereus tetragonus. However, they are both accepted species.
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.”
I will continue adding more 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.