Queen of the night

Queen of the night

Cereus jamacaru – Cereus hexagonus complex

Common Name:

Queen of the night

Scientific Name:

Cereus jamacaru – Cereus hexagonus complex

Alternative common names:

Blue cereus, Tall columnar cactus, Cacto columnar, Lady of the night  


What is known in South Africa as queen of the night cactus is probably not a single species, but a complex of various closely-related species and subspecies that are difficult to distinguish, including Cereus jamacaru, C. hildmannianus and C. hexagonus. The group is often referred to as the Cereus hexagonus complex , which is indigenous to South America and the Caribbean.

Queen of the night is a treelike cactus that grows like a candelabrum with a short thick trunk from the top of which it sends out cylindrical shoots which as soon as they have room rise straight upwards in fluted pillars up to 15 metres height Such a plant with pillars rising side by side and almost touching one another has a curious resemblance to an organ with its pipes and thence its name organo. It forms a trunk 30-40 cm in diameter usually branching near the base

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Southern America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Limpopo Province

How does it spread?

By birds and water

Why is it a problem?

Bird-dispersed seeds have resulted in the spread of the cactus into the savanna of the warmer and arid parts of South Africa, where it reduces the carrying capacity of land by preventing livestock and game to shelter under shade trees during the hottest parts of the day.

What does it look like?

Leaves: No leaves, only many stems
Flowers: White flowers
Fruit/seeds: Pale red fruit, (20 cm) long

Does the plant have any uses?

It is grown in gardens and its fruits can be eaten dried or made into a juice.

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