Chichipe, Chichibe, Chichituna, Chichitun
Synonyms of Polaskia chichipe (5): Cereus chichipe Rol.-Goss., Cereus mixtecensis J.A.Purpus, Lemaireocereus chichipe (Gosselin) Britton & Rose, Lemaireocereus mixtecensis Britton & Rose, Myrtillocactus chichipe (Rol.-Goss.) P.V.Heath (Updated 11-20-20 from Plants of the World Onlne).
Polaskia chichipe (Rol.-Goss) Backeb. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Polaskia. It was named and described as such by Curt Backeberg in Cactus and Succulent Journal in 1951. It was first named and described as Cereus chichipe by Robert Roland-Gosselin in Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in 1905.
The genus, Polaskia Backeb., was also named and described by Curt Backeberg in Blätter fur Sukkulentenkunde 1949.
Plants of the World Online by Kew lists two accepted species in the genus Polaskia (as of 9-6-21 when the page was last updated). The genus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 144 accepted genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
There are several links at the bottom of the page for further reading.
I found this cactus at Lowe’s on 11-10-20. There are three plants in the 11 oz. (3 1/2” diameter) pot. The tallest plant measured 2 3/4” tall x 1 5/8” wide, the middle plant measured 2 3/8” tall x 1 1/2” wide, and the smallest measured about 2” tall x 1 1/4” wide.
This cactus wasn’t labeled with its name, so I posted photos the Facebook group called Succulent infatuation. A member suggested it was a Polaskia chichipe and after doing some research, they may be correct. These plants are very small, but if they are Polaskia chichipe, they can grow to 15′ and produce multiple branches. I will send photos elsewhere to see if I can get other opinions because information online says Polaskia chichipe generally has 9-12 ribs and the plants I brought home have only seven…
Polaskia chichipe is native to warmer areas of central and southwest Mexico. Where they are prized for their edible fruit.
As you can see in the above photo, my plants have seven ribs. The small spines are brownish at the top and more gray toward the bottom. Information on LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) and other sites say they have 9-12 ribs. They have 6-7 radial spines that can grow up to 2″ long and 1 central spine. They produce pinkish-white or yellow-green flowers in the wild between March and June and produce fruit between June and August.
There was one of those darn “strawflowers” on the top of the biggest plant. It was fairly loose and I was able to get it off without too much damage. I have had several cactus that took a while for all the glue to come off. Sometimes the company sticks a big glob of glue on the flower and you just have to leave it alone or risk damaging the plant. Trust me, it will eventually come off. If the flower won’t easily come off, I take the scissors and cut off as much as I can.
The above photo is a close-up showing the 6-7 radial spines and one central spine and prominent ribs.
Polaskia chichipe is a slow-growing cactus. They are fairly cold tolerant but cannot withstand freezing temps. They need very well-draining soil as do all cactus. Information suggests they only like a short rest period in the winter and should be almost completely dry during that time.
The three Polaskia chichipe have done quite well over the summer on the front porch. The largest plant has grown 1/2″ taller since November 11, 2020.
Origin: Central Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9-11 (20-40° F)
Size: Up to maybe 15’ tall
*Light: Sun to part shade
**Soil: Fast-draining soil. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50 or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Regular watering during the summer and hardly any during the winter.
*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.
**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it…
I think a lot of growing tips online are written by people who never grew succulents and cactus. They just copy from one website and paste it to theirs. You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil.
***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside.
When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.
There isn’t that much online about this species but 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. There isn’t much online about this plant yet…