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Pachycereus pringlei is a species of cactus that is native to northwestern Mexico in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, and Sonora. It is commonly known as Cardón, a name derived from the Spanish word cardo, meaning “thistle.”[2]

It is the tallest cactus species in the world, with a maximum recorded height of 19.2 m (63 ft),[3] with a stout trunk up to 1 m (3.3 ft) in diameter bearing several erect branches. In overall appearance, it resembles the related Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), but differs in the fewer ribs on the stems, in being more heavily branched from near to the base of the stem, and in the location of the blossoms.

Large stands of these magnificent cactus still exist, but many have been destroyed as fields have been cleared for cultivation in Sonora.

The fruit of this cactus was an important food for the Seri people in Sonora, who call the cactus xaasj.[4]

The flesh of this cactus contains alkaloids, and may have been used as a psychoactive plant in Mexico.[5]

A symbiotic relationship with bacterial and fungal colonies on its roots allows P. pringlei to grow on bare rock even where there is no soil available at all, as the bacteria can fix nitrogen from the air and break down the rock to produce nutrients. The cactus even packages symbiotic bacteria in with its seeds.[6][7][8]

Written on June 18th, 2012 , Forestry

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