Stenocereus pruinosus-Gray Ghost, Organ Pipe

Stenocereus pruinosus on 7-19-16, #274-66.

Gray Ghost, Organ Pipe, Pitayo de Octubre (of October), Pitaya

Stenocereus pruinosus

sten-oh-KER-ee-us  proo-in-NO-sus

Stenocereus pruinosus (Otto ex Pfeiff.) Buxb. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this cactus. It was described by this name by Franz Buxbaum in Botanische Studien in 1961. It was first named and described as Echinocactus pruinosus by Christoph Friedrich Otto and Louis (Ludwig) Karl George Pfeiffer in Enumeratio Diagnostica Cactearum in 1837.

The genus Stenocereus was named by Vincenzo Riccobono and first mentioned in Bollettino delle Reale Orto Botanico di Palermo in 1909. It replaces Cereus subsp. Stenocereus which was named by Alwin Berger and first mentioned in the Annual Report of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1905.

There are 25 accepted species in the Stenocereus genus and one accepted infraspecific name, 66 synonyms (plus 8 infraspecific names) and 15 names still unresolved. That was according to The 2013 version of The Plant List.

This plant has had the following names which are now synonyms, in order by date:
Cereus pruinosus (Otto ex Pfeiff.) Otto. Described by Christoph Friedrich Otto in Handbuch der Cacteenkunde in 1846.
Lemaireocereus pruinosus (Otto ex Pfeiff) Britton & Rose. Described by Nathaniel Lord Britton and Joseph Nelson Rose. They described it as such in The Cactaceae in 1920.
Ritterocereus pruinosus (Otto ex Pfeiff.) Backeb. Described by Curt Backeb in the Cactus and Succulent Journal in 1951.
Rathbunia pruinosa (Otto ex Pfeiff.) P.V. Heath. Described by Paul V. Heath in Calyx in 1992.
Griseocereus pruinosus (Otto ex. Pfeiff.) Guiggi. Described by Alessandro Guiggi in Cactology in 2012.


Stenocereus pruinosus on 5-31-17, #339-41.

I bought my Stenocereus pruinosus from Wal-Mart on 2-1-16. It was growing in a 2 1/2” (4 oz.) pot and it measured approximately 2 7/8” tall x 2 3/4” wide at the time. The label states: “Lemaireocereus pruinosus is a powdery, gray columnar cactus that grows to 20’ in height in time. White nocturnal flower. Native habitat is Puebla, Mexico. Protect from frost. Provide bright light/sun; hardy to 32 degrees F.; to 6’ tall. Water thoroughly when soil is dry.


Stenocereus pruinosus on 9-5-17, #371-22.

Stenocereus grows in tropical deciduous forests in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz, Mexico and is cultivated for its edible fruit. Stenocereus pruinosus is tree-like or columnar cactus that can grow 12-15 feet tall with one or more trunks.


Stenocereus pruinosus on 10-17-17, #384-24.

When I brought my plant in for the winter on October 17, 2017, the Stenocereus pruinosus measured 3 3/4″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide.


Stenocereus pruinosus, from the top, on 10-17-17, #384-25.


Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11(25 to 40° F)
Size: 10-20’
Light: Sun to light shade
Soil: Well-drained. Potting soil amended with additional grit and pumice or perlite.
Water: Average during the summer months, barely during the winter.



Stenocereus pruinosus on 1-18-18, #401-13.

Doing very well inside for the winter, the Stenocereus pruinosus, is snuggled with many other cactus and succulents on a table in the bedroom. They are getting lots of good sun from a south-facing window.


Stenocereus pruinosus on 5-17-17, #443-98.

Back outside again for the summer…


Stenocereus pruinosus on 7-29-18, #487-96.

After the Japanese Beetle invasion, I moved the potted plants, cactus, and succulents to the front and back porch of the house. The Stenocereus pruinosus is enjoying its summer in the sun on the back porch.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 10 because the forecast was calling for an “F” in a few days and the nighttime temperatures were getting cooler. The Stenocereus pruinosus measured 3 7/8″ tall x 3″ wide but I forgot to take its photo


Stenocereus pruinosus on 11-29-18, #534-33.

November 29 was a nice spring-like day, so I took the cactus to the back porch for a photo shoot. I was working on a post to show the difference between the cactus in my collection.


Stenocereus pruinosus close-up on 12-1-18, #535-24.

Stenocereus pruinosus is a very interesting plant for sure. Its areoles produce 1-4 short and stout central spines. Llifle also says they have 5-8 radial spines but mine has none. The Stenocereus pruinosus in my collection has five ribs but some specimens have more. They produce side branches from the base which give them a V-shaped appearance.

I have enjoyed having the Stenocereus pruinosus as a companion and it is much different than the others I have grown. I like the silver color and the way it gets darker with more light. There is also a variegated variety of this cactus which would also be very interesting.

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.


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