How to Identify a San Pedro cactus

You may know this species as the San Pedro Cactus, and, chances are, you have seen it growing in a neighbor’s yard, or perhaps you have seen it on sale at a home goods store. Echinopsis Pachanoi is a fairly common variety of cactus from South America. It has been imported and grown in the United States typically for aesthetic purposes, but it is believed to have medicinal and recreational purposes as well.

Confusion between Echinopsis pachanoi and other cacti is very common as many species tend to look quite similar. The San Pedro Cactus can grow an average of 10 to 20 feet while the Peruvian Apple Cactus can average an incredible 33 feet. These two species are often mixed up due to their seemingly similar appearances. At first glance, however, you may be able to tell these species apart by the width of their branches. Averaging between 6 and 15 centimeters, the diameter of the San Pedro’s branches tends to be smaller than those of the Peruvian Apple, averaging between 10 and 20 centimeters while the Bilberry Cactus can grow between 4 and 5 meters tall, and the diameter of its branches measure between 6 and 10 centimeters.

The Bilberry Cactus can have 5 to 6 vertical ribs that form its branches just as the San Pedro can have 6 to 8. These species may appear the same at a distance, but a closer look reveals a key difference. Looking upon these cacti from the crown will reveal that the San Pedro has a bulbous and rounded shape to its ribs while the Bilberry’s are thinner and may have an edge atop their crowns. The Peruvian Apple can have 5 to 8 narrow ribs, widely spaced apart.

Usually whitish or tan in color, the areoles of the San Pedro Cactus typically produce up to 7 spines averaging 2 centimeters in length, which are spaced vertically and evenly down the ribs of the cactus. The Peruvian Apple Pear tends to have white-gray areoles and can produce up to 10 spines while the Bilberry cacti, which have a tan areole, produce up to 8 spines.

The fruit of both the Bilberry and the Peruvian Apple are edible and enjoyed in South America. The dark purple fruit of the Bilberry Cactus grows up to 2 centimeters in diameter, and the San Pedro Cactus’ fruits, while they are not edible raw, are dark green, and they grow up to 6 centimeters long. Peruvian Apple fruit, on the other hand, tends to be larger and purple to yellow in color. When identifying the San Pedro Cactus, the fruits can be an important distinguishing characteristic.