The 10 Different Forms of San Pedro Cactus
A Detailed Guide to San Pedro Growth Forms
When picturing a San Pedro cactus, the one that comes to mind is usually a tall, strong, rooted specimen with its columnar form stretching to the sky. But mutations and genetic developments created several different fascinating growth forms of the beloved Trichocereus Pachanoi. This guide is intended to help you understand and identify the different growth forms in which San Pedro Cactus and its relatives can be found.
With a long lifespan and amazing growing potential, these cacti can seamlessly transform into statement pieces in your yard or patio as they grow to new heights. It’s no wonder that people view these treasures as an investment. When growing your own San Pedro collection, there are several different forms you want to consider that will literally shape your cactus experience.
If it Looks Like a Cactus
1. Columnar San Pedro Cactus (Rooted)
At the top of our list is the columnar rooted San Pedro, the most prevalent variety you'll encounter. Characterized by tall, erect stems that grow straight up, these cacti have matured into robust plants with strong, healthy roots, making them ideal for immediate soil planting. This particular San Pedro is our most popular choice and often serves as the starting point for many collectors and enthusiasts. Classified as the predominant cultivar (or "PC"), these rooted San Pedro cacti are the most commonly cultivated type, known for their resilience to rot, fungal infections, and pests with minimal effort. They offer an excellent opportunity to explore San Pedro cacti and plant care. Additionally, we offer various non-PC options for those seeking alternative varieties.
2. Columnar San Pedro Cactus (Cutting)
A San Pedro cutting is a columnar tip removed and calloused from a larger plant. As such, these cuttings do not yet have established roots. Because San Pedro cacti are referred to as self-sterile, they cannot pollinate themselves and can only be clonally propagated through cuttings. This means that learning to grow and cultivate your cutting will set you up for taking more cuttings and repeating the process. We offer a variety of cutting types and sizes to fit your needs, with our standard cuttings being PC. It’s the ideal way to grow your cactus garden and your green thumb!
A Note about PC San Pedro
The phrase “PC San Pedro” is often brought up in cactus communities discussing the origins or true nature of their cacti. In actuality, “PC” simply stands for “predominant cultivar” and refers to the most common form of San Pedro cacti grown, having nothing to do with the quality of the plant. Our rooted San Pedro and San Pedro cuttings are considered PC while the other types are non-PC.
3. Clonal Cuttings - Named Cultivars of San Pedro Cactus
What’s in a name? Typically the lineage of plants. Sometimes the popularity of a breeder or grower. In the San Pedro Cactus Community there are several Named Cultivars that are available through clonal reproduction only. They may be field collected specimens from cactus expeditions, or just especially beloved cultivars from famous gardens. Sometimes the rare ornamental value of a plant or its vigorous growth will earn it a name, oftentimes growers just name things they grow because they love it, and that's okay too.
For example, the ‘Torres x Torres’ is a specific cultivar collected by Donna and Manuel Torres in Northern Chile. The ‘Yowie’ is a named cultivar that was brought to Australia by a man named Harry Blossfeld.
4. Seed Grown Hybrid San Pedro Cactus
Whereas named cultivars are propagated through clonal cuttings, certain species of the Trichocereus genus can form hybrids with other cultivars within the same species, genus, and sometimes even intergenus. These hybrids, depending on the direction of pollination, will favor the traits of the mother or father plant and produce a variety of offspring with a mixture of their traits. The inter-genetic mix will be a new creation in and of itself.
For example, The Dr. Greenthumbs x PB3 is a Trichocereus Scopulicola and Trichocereus Peruvianus Hybrid. It has traits of both it’s parent plants, with the short spines of the Scopulicola, and the blue toned epidermis from the Peruvianis.
Why does this all matter?
Because of highly sought after cultivars fetching a higher price due to their ornamental appeal or landrace varieties being field collected and propagated by clone cutting over the years.
Things are Starting to Look a Little Weird
5. Monstrose San Pedro Cactus - Trichocereus Pachanoi Monstrose - TPM
A Monstrose San Pedro is a unique and unusual growth form of cactus. Like the crested variety, a San Pedro Monstrose forms due to “growing abnormalities” that signal new growths in different asymmetrical formations. These sought after cacti present with multiple stems and tips that make for a unique and beautiful stand of cactus. As with any of our extremely unique varieties, we often sell out of San Pedro Monstrose quickly, so you’ll want to act fast if looking to add this non-PC variety to your garden!
6. Dichotomous San Pedro Cactus - TP, TPM, TPC
Like the splitting of two cells in mitosis the San Pedro may find itself in a pickle as one column splits into two forming a dichotomous growth section. This is especially common on monstrose growth forms and sometimes even forms Trichotomous and Quadtomouous growth patterns, like a pitchfork! Some individuals within a species may naturally display dichotomous growth, or external factors such as environmental stress, damage, or injury to the growing tip of the cactus can trigger dichotomous growth.
7. Crested San Pedro Cactus - Trichocereus Pachanoi Cristata - TPC
The Crested San Pedro cactus is a unique, stunning variation that results from abnormal growth at the tip of the cactus. Instead of new cells growing towards a single point, they end up growing in a line. This is called fasciation and results in a crested cactus head, with multiple “tips” presenting in a gorgeous, curvy wave. Our Crested San Pedro cacti are living works of art, fanning out in multiple directions to create one-of-a-kind specimens. They are non-PC San Pedro and you can view all of the crested varieties we have in stock here.
8. Reverted San Pedro Cactus
Sometimes a San Pedro Monstrose actually shapes back into traditional columnar growth. This indicates that monstrose or cresting genetics are present and may or may not return down the road. While truly columnar cactus will not turn monstrose, reverts still have monstrose or crests in their genetics, so even when it reverts it can start to crest once again! The benefit of owning this type of cactus is you have the opportunity to witness the transformation in real time while possibly learning to care for it at different growth stages and shapes. You never know what you’ll get with a San Pedro Revert cactus, and we think that’s the best part!
These Cactus are not for the faint of heart
9. Variegated Columnar San Pedro Cactus
The Variegated Columnar San Pedro adds a splash of color to the usual green. Variegation is a result of a lack of chlorophyll in certain areas of the plant tissues, and can cause light yellow/white patches of color on the epidermis of the plant. Variegated Columnar San Pedro are typically a little thinner and more prone to rotting, so grafting these onto other cactus can help.
For a guide on grafting San Pedro cacti, you can check out our blog here.
10. Variegated Crested San Pedro Cactus
Variegated Crested San Pedro are colorful versions of a standard crest. These rare cacti display a bright yellow coloring along their fan-like ridges, and are a great combination of unique traits. Variegated Crests are great for impressing your friends, but we don’t recommend these for beginners, as these tend to be more rot prone and difficult to care for.
Something to note about variegated is that they tend to be weaker and more prone to rotting and depending on how much it’s variegated may need to be grafted.
While a San Pedro cactus is a journey in itself, the chance to propagate more cacti and learn about different forms make the entire family worth exploring! We’re proud to offer both PC and non-PC varieties in many different forms that you can feel confident and excited about growing your own San Pedro Collection in your home.
- Columnar (Rooted): San Pedro with tall, erect stems ready for immediate planting. Resilient and easy to care for, these rooted cacti are perfect for beginners.
- Columnar (Cutting): Clonally propagated San Pedro from carefully removed tip cuttings. Ideal for learning cultivation and repeating the process, our standard cuttings feature the predominant cultivar (PC) variety.
- Clonal Cuttings - Named Cultivars: A cultivated variety of San Pedro cactus available through clonal reproduction only.
- Seed Grown Hybrid: Trichocereus species form unique combinations through pollination.
- Monstrose - TPM: A San Pedro with growing abnormalities that cause it to grow in strange asymmetrical patterns.
- Dichotomous: One column splits into two or even more sections. External factors or natural occurrences can trigger this unique growth form.
- Crested - TPC: San Pedro with abnormal growth at the tip, creating a stunning, curvy wave of multiple tips.
- Reverted San Pedro: When a San Pedro transforms back into different growth patterns.
- Variegated Columnar: Yellow/White patches of color in columnar san pedro.
- Variegated Crested: Yellow/White patches of color in crested san pedro.