Torch cactus

Torch cactus

Trichocereus spachianus (=Echinopsis spachiana) (Cactaceae)

Common Name:

Torch cactus

Scientific Name:

Trichocereus spachianus (=Echinopsis spachiana) (Cactaceae)

Alternative common names:

Orrelkaktus; kabelkaktus (Afrikaans)


A spiny, multi-stemmed succulent plant up to 1,5m high with numerous spines in groups of 8-10, amber-coloured turning grey. Central spine is longer than the radial spines. No leaves. Showy white nocturnal flowers appear from November to March. The floral tube is covered with long hairs. This cactus produces green hairy fruits with black seeds. It invades dry savanna and Karoo.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

South America (Western Argentina)

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

CARA 2002 - Category 1; NEMBA - Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape and Free State.

How does it spread?

Spreads mainly by its small black seeds.

Why is it a problem?

It competes with indigenous species. In savanna it grows under the crowns of trees, thus barring access to shade for domestic and wild animals. Where it has started forming infestations it reduces the carrying capacity of the land and its many spines can cause injuries to grazing animals.

What does it look like?

General description: Spiny, multi-stemmed, succulent plant, stem sections green, erect; has numerous spines, in groups of 8-10, amber-coloured turning grey, with the central spine longer than radials.
Flowers: White, showy, up to 20cm long, mostly coming out at night, floral tube covered with long hairs.
Fruit/Seeds: Produces green, hairy berries, white inside with small black seeds

Does the plant have any uses?

Used for hedging and as an ornamental plant.

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