Pachanoi or pachanot; Smith’s observations

 

    Michael Smith’s observations

   The topic revolves around a deceptively simple observation made by Michael S. Smith:
What is most commonly recognized as Trichocereus pachanoi in the USA differs from the published description for Trichocereus pachanoi.

 His primary point of contention that concerns the pachanot is based on the following rather simple comment from Britton & Rose 1920:

“…ovary covered with black curled hairs; axils of scales on flower-tube and fruit bearing long black hairs.”

    page 134 in The Cactaceae

  Its good to remember that Britton & Rose had initially reported pachanoi from Ecuador and Backeberg expanded its reported range into Peru in the 1930s. Backeberg encountered it at Huancabamba being called San Pedro. Many wild collections and herbarium vouchers have been made.

  To lessen some unavoidable confusion, its important to be aware that bona fide pachanoi commonly exists with long spines and with very short spines. Sometimes both can be present on a single plant. Or its spination can be somewhere in between the two extremes.

 The crazy range of variability for pachanoi itself makes it tempting to dismiss Smith’s questions offhand without taking time for a close look.

 Just for fun, let’s take that closer look.

  The reason that comment of Britton & Rose provoked some conflict with observation of the pachanot is the latter deviates by typically showing white, light brown or grey woolly hair on its ovary, tube and fruit.

 Hair color seems like a really trivial feature to make very much of anything out of, especially considering how most of the other features on these cacti can be so extremely variable. This is yet another reason that it’s easy to dismiss this subject without giving it much thought.

  If, however, it had just been Britton & Rose’s description it could have ended there.

  Fortunately we are lucky enough to have more descriptive comments available to us (and we also have some nice views of what still exists in South America today that are available for sake of enabling a comparison).

  If it was just the hair color that was different this conversation might never have begun. It was this small observation however that led into what has proven to be an unusually illuminating and thought provoking pathway of questioning.

   Curt Backeberg modified his description of pachanoi hair to brown which nicely fits some of the plants still growing where he collected in Peru.  

  In the 1931 description that Curt Backeberg wrote for Cereus pachanoi Werdermann was the comment:

“Fruchtknoten und Röhre […] mit langen, braunen Wollhaaren.”

    page 79 in Neue Kakteen

John Borg made a similar statement in 1937.

 “…with ovary and tube covered with long brown hairs.”

    page 183 in Cacti

 

 However by 1959 the description coming from Backeberg’s hand had grown more towards Britton & Rose’s black:

 “Ov. und Röhre mit schwärzlichen Haaren besetz.”

     page 1118 in Die Cactaceae

 

 Friedrich Ritter similarly referred to blackish-brown and black in his description of pachanoi in 1981:

 “Fruchtknoten […] mit reichlichen schwarzbraunen Wollhaaren”

&

“Blütenröhre […] langen graugrünen Schuppen und schwarzen, 15–25 mm langen Wollbüscheln”

    page 1324 in Kakteen in Südamerika

 

  In 1984, Carlos Ostolaza wrote another description of pachanoi with detailed floristic comments:

 “Pericarpel […] is covered with scales with brownish hairs 15 mm (.6″) long on the axils [….] floral tube […] has fewer scales […] with more hair on axils.”

&

“The fruit […] covered with scales and black hairs.”

    page 102 in the Cactus & Succulent Journal (US) 56.

(pericarpel = ovary)
 

Another description came from Jens Madsen in 1981:

 “[areoles of the floral bracts]…bearing clusters of brownish black, 1-22 mm long, curled and twisted hairs.”

    page 28 in Flora of Ecuador.

 

Edward Anderson’s 2001 The Cactus Family:

“pericarpels and floral tubes with black hairs”

    page 276.

 

The 2006 New Cactus Lexicon of David Hunt:

 “pc [pericarpel] and hyp [hypanthium] with black hairs”

    page 98.

(hypanthium = tube)


Hmmm.
There seems to be something amiss with our ‘San Pedro’.
While I may be accused of splitting hairs, these photos should raise some questions:

 

pachanot ovary hair
 

“…ovary covered with black curled hairs;
 

axils of scales on flower-tube […] bearing long black hairs.”?
  

pachanot-flower-sideview

 

“…fruit bearing long black hairs.”?
 

pachanot fruit after rain


The fruit in the lower photograph above
has seen its surface features fortuitously exposed by rain.
This example is the “blackest” hair I have
thusfar encountered on a pachanot fruit.
 

Several questions spring to mind but I have no real answer for any of them.

As a first set:

  What happened here?

&

  How, where & when did this come to be the predominate pachanoi in US horticulture?

  No matter what the answers turn out to be, there are two separate topics that exist as a result of this observation:

Topic 1) 
       ‘Backeberg’s clone’ is a misnomer – as the pachanot could not have come from Backeberg.

See a view of the so-called “Backeberg’s clone”
compared to what *Backeberg actually knew as pachanoi*.
 

Topic 2) 
       The pachanot and pachanoi may look rather similar but they have predictable differences if their flowers and/or fruit can be examined.

Compare South American
Trichocereus pachanoi
to the “pachanot
 

  Take a look at a pachanoi growing in Ecuador today.

Trichocereus-pachanoi-Quito-HubbieSmidlak

Thanks for reading!
 

Back to the opening page
You are on the “Smith’s observation” page
On to Topic 1: “Backeberg’s clone”
On to Topic 2: pachanoi compared to pachanot
Additional material to ponder: 

pachanot compared to bridgesii

hybrids

pachanoi or pachanoids

unanswered questions

 

All photographs © copyright by their photographers.
Photos are by Keeper Trout except where indicated otherwise.
Please contact us or them to obtain reuse permission.

 

Trichocereus pachanoi at Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Image

   There are abundant Trichocereus pachanoi in the adjacent countryside.
Typically they are growing amidst the cover of nurse plants, this sometimes is including stands of Anadenanthera trees. Alana Cory-Collins has commented on there being a historical succession from snuff to cactus for the Chavín in Peru but was unclear where their Anadenanthera had come from only that it obviously came to them as a trade item.

 Trichocereus-pachanoi-Vilcabamba-HubbieSmidlak

Trichocereus-pachanoi-Vilcabamba-HubbieSmidlak

Trichocereus-pachanoi-Vilcabamba-HubbieSmidlak

Trichocereus-pachanoi-Vilcabamba-HubbieSmidlak

Trichocereus-pachanoi-Vilcabamba-HubbieSmidlak

 

 

This last image is a closer view of the preceding photograph.

Copyright by Hubbie Smidlak 2008

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Additional material to ponder: 

 


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Comparison of the areoles of a pachanot and a Trichocereus pachanoi

Image

   Areoles of “our pachanot” (top) and Trichocereus pachanoi (bottom) compared.
While it would be possible to assemble a whole page comparing their areoles, I suspect that  enough already exist elsewhere in this article, so only a simple pair is being included below.

 

Detail of the areoles on pachanot

Our pachanot above

Trichocereus pachanoi below

details of areoles on Trichocereus pachanoi in Germany Copyright by Evil Genius

 

Copyright © by Keeper Trout (top) and by Evil Genius (lower)

Trichocereus species flowers

Image

   A comparison of the flowers from a few assorted Trichocereus species that appear to be closely related to each other based on their simple morphology. (click here for a larger version):

Trichocereus-flowers-compared

Trichocereus-flowers-compared

Trichocereus-flowers-compared

Trichocereus-flowers-compared

Trichocereus-flowers-compared

Copyright © by Keeper Trout

 

A pachanot with some black hairs

Image

 

  Blackish and brown hairs arising from the axils of the scales on the pericarpel of a pachanot in Oakland. 


blackish hairs on a pachanot
 

 

Copyright © by Keeper Trout

 

 

 

Ecuador – a spiny Trichocereus pachanoi

Image

  A closer view of a spiny Trichocereus pachanoi cultivated at Quito, Ecuador.

  Both long and short spined forms of pachanoi are common in Ecuador (similar to the picture in Peru). It has been proposed that the short spined versions were developed by human selection but as far as I can tell this is entirely still speculative.

Ecuador pachanoi Hubbie Smidlak 2008

Image copyright by Hubbie Smidlak 2008;
reproduced with permission by Trout’s Notes

 

More pachanoi at Quito, Ecuador
pachanoi at Vilcabamba, Ecuador
pachanoi in Peru
pachanoi in Bolivia 

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pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 

cuttings of Trichocereus pachanoi from Peru

Image

  These are cuttings of a bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi from Peru that were harvested at Matucana and then shipped to the USA. These provided the botanical material that was analyzed by Olabode Ogunbodede; with results published in the 15 September 2010 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Volume 131, Issue 2, Pages 356–362).

  These tips spent some months inside of a box traveling through the postal system. Obtaining these cuttings proved to be a surreal adventure as it took well over a year with many convolutions including the final delivery lacking identification labels and documentation. It was nothing short of a minor miracle that successful delivery was actually realized. 

 

cuttings of Trichocereus pachanoi from Peru

cuttings of Trichocereus pachanoi from Peru

cuttings of Trichocereus pachanoi from Peru

 

Images copyrighted by & courtesy of
the Cactus Conservation Institute

 

 

 

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Additional material to ponder: 

 

new growth

Image

  The new growth on a pachanot.

  This is a very typical new tip for a pachanot. Its no surprise this plant is so widely loved for its beauty.

new growth

 

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Quito, Ecuador – Trichocereus pachanoi

Image

  Quito, Ecuador has a number of forms of Trichocereus pachanoi in cultivation. As we already have seen, and will be seeing again, a similar story exists in Peru.
I’ll suggest to readers that it is best to try and have some fun with this and try to resist drawing conclusions as long as you can. It is valuable to not get distracted by the variable degree of spination and different vegetative body morphologies. They are worth gaining familiarity with so the plants can be recognized when encountered but in this instance it is the flowers and the fruit that are actually helpful for illumination.
Take some time to study the images in this article and after a while some of the things to focus on should start to resolve. 

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

Quito, Ecuador Trichocereus pachanoi Photograph copyright by Hubbie Smidlak

 

All images above are of Trichocereus pachanoi growing at Quito.

Some more Trichocereus pachanoi in Ecuador

Photographs copyright by Hubbie Smidlak 2008 

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Trichocereus bridgesii & our pachanot

Image

    Trichocereus bridgesii compared to our pachanot.
All of this set of images were taken of plants growing in Sonoma or Mendocino County, California.
In the first image the pachanot is on top, in the lower two images Trichocereus bridgesii is on top.

 Trichocereus bridgesii compared to our pachanot

 Trichocereus bridgesii compared to our pachanot

 Trichocereus bridgesii compared to our pachanot

 

  This last example shows the blackest wooly hair we have thusfar encountered on a pachanot flower. (See some short blackish hairs.)

See images of a few of bridgesii’s many forms

   There are plenty of pictures of bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi flowers included in this article that can be compared to these two as well.

  Things to notice: the degree and nature of hairs arising from the axils of the scales on the flowers, the appearance of the ovary and its degree of hairiness, the appearance of the scales and also the appearance of the sepals when the flower is fully open.  If a person can view them first-hand or have matching pairs of images a lot more can be seen inside of the flower but this is not reliable from photographs. One thing that might be overlooked if unfamiliar with these plants is that in most cases only night-time or early morning images show undamaged interiors. Typically, as early as it is possible to get out and about, honey-bees or some other type of bee will start stripping them of all possible pollen leaving the stigma knocked down or to one side and the interior series of stamens sort of trampled in appearance. Sometime extremely so. Understanding this has occurred is really important if wanting to make sense out of comparing the interior flower parts.

   This taken together with other observations of the morphology of their stems, spination & fruit, and reflection on the difference between those two sets on the interesting hybridization page lead me to suspect that the pachanot might be a hybrid between Trichocereus bridgesii and a Trichocereus pachanoi.  At the very least those F1 hybrid sets suggest that the pachanot had something somewhere in its lineage that formed some rather familiar long yellow spines. 

   Assuming for a moment that it is a hybrid, it is also potentially possible that it was of natural occurrence, many naturally occurring cactus hybrids are known. One other plausible possibility is that it is a hybrid produced by a horticulturalist’s hands which they recognized for being a potential money maker and started its mass propagation and distribution.

   The volume and extent of its distribution makes it clear that it entered horticulture through the hands of a major commercial grower so it is possible that there may still be a paper-trail (or someone’s memory) taking it back to its origin — assuming a person can first identify the point of entry into horticulture and all of the records or neurons involved are not already turned to dust. Maybe this will be found interesting enough to someday be looked into using DNA testing but for most botanists this is going to be a really trivial issue.

  Some tangential images as well as the obviously pertinent ones may also shed some light on the subject of hybrids. You have no doubt already noticed the hybrid page but just to be sure here is another link.

  Also it might be found interesting and useful to compare the flowers from assorted Trichocereus that appear to be closely related

 

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