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)


    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.”?



“…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 real pachanoi growing in Ecuador today. 


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


pachanoi or pachanoids

unanswered questions


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Photos are by Keeper Trout except where indicated otherwise.
Please contact us or them to obtain reuse permission.


P.C.Hutchison 1597

Trichocereus pachanoi  P.C.Hutchison 1597


  Trichocereus pachanoi Peru 57.0884.
Material came from Huancabamba Prov., Piura Dept., Peru. [Link 1] [Link 2]
Paul C. Hutchison collected this as live clones during the late 1950s. 

Hutchison Huancabamba T. pachanoi

    Sadly the display specimens of P.C.Hutchison 1597 periodically experiences heavy predation by thieves and is removed from public display to enable it to recover and survive. Almost all Botanical Gardens have regular plant sales that make such thievery a crime that is directed against everyone.


pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 


Copyright © by Keeper Trout


Trichocereus pachanoi Knize

Knize‘s Ecuadorian Trichocereus pachanoi shipped from Lima, Peru.

Ecuadorian Trichocereus pachanoi from Knize viewedcloser Ecuadorian Trichocereus pachanoi from Knize viewed closer Ecuadorian Trichocereus pachanoi from Knize viewed closer Ecuadorian Trichocereus pachanoi from Knize viewedcloser

     Karel Knize’s collection numbers have created some lasting identification problems due to commonly being locality numbers rather than actual specimen collection numbers. What this means, if unfamiliar, is that the same number is assigned to plants that the collector believes are identical and growing within a given range of elevations in a particular region. Clearly that is a practice that is sometimes going to miss the mark.

     In this case, of course, Trichocereus pachanoi is an easy one to identify. 

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pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 

Copyright © by Keeper Trout


Trichocereus pachanoi at Vilcabamba, Ecuador


   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.






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

Copyright by Hubbie Smidlak 2008

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Backeberg’s view



This is Curt Backeberg’s view of Trichocereus pachanoi 
The image below was published in Backeberg’s 1959 Die Cactaceae.
It shows the Trichocereus pachanoi that was identified
and collected by Backeberg at Huancabamba.

  Assuming there really is such a thing as “Backeberg’s clone” it will look like the tip above and not like the pachanot.
   If anyone knows anything about the material Backeberg said he brought into horticulture I would love hearing about it. Drop me an email or snail mail.


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pachanoi or pachanot?

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Ecuador – a spiny Trichocereus pachanoi


  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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Quito, Ecuador – Trichocereus pachanoi


  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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Abelardo Pachano Lalama

   Ing. Abelardo Pachano Lalama is still recognized as one of Ambato, Ecuador’s illustrious citizens.

  His baptized name was Segundo Miguel Ángel Abelardo Pachano Lalama.

Abelardo Pachano Lalama
(4 October, 1885 Ambato, Ecuador — 13 October, 1958 Ambato, Ecuador) 

  Pachano was born as the eldest son into a prominent Ambato family. His father was the well-respected citizen Abel Pachano Baca and his mother was Amelia Lalama Pachano. Abelardo’s father had earned fame and incarceration as a liberal patriot in his youth. Abel Pachano Baca went on to become a lawyer who served his country as a congressman, a municipal counselor, a judge, the President of the Municipality of Ambato and Chairman of the Liberal Board of Tungurahua.

  Abelardo Pachano had nine siblings. One of his sisters, Eloisa Maria Montalvo became the wife of another famous ambateño Juan Francisco Montalvo who, coincidently, was one of Pachano’s classmates while attending Cornell. One of his brothers, Rodrigo Pachano Lalama, achieved lasting fame for his contributions as a lawyer, political writer, acclaimed poet, legislator and as a professor of philosophy, logic and ethics at the Colegio Bolivar (later becoming its Rector.)

  In 1915, Abelardo Pachano Lalama married  Clotilde Naranjo Vasconez. They had five children. Pachano is said to have many grandchildren who are currently engaged in professional fields, one of whom is his namesake.

  Pachano was remembered by the historian Julio Castillo as having “a serene conscience convinced of his ideals”. Castillo further ascribed him with loyalty, austerity, seriousness and immense honesty with “the fortitude of an apostle and unprecedented value.”

    Ing. Pachano graduated with honors, his studies in agricultural engineering earning him a degree in Applied Agronomy from Cornell University in New York; where he was recognized for merit in his studies of agronomy, bacteriology & microbiology. He returned to Ambato, Ecuador in 1911 with plans of using what he had learned for the benefit of everyone. His many contributions to botanical exploration were immortalized when the Ecuadorian aguacolla cactus (aka achuma in Peru) was named for him by Dr. Joseph Nelson Rose following Britton & Rose’s Andean expedition. While Britton & Rose’s comments say simply that Pachano was the traveling companion of Rose in the Andes, his achievements remembered in Ecuador include the classification of cacti.

  In Ecuador, Abelardo Pachano is still remembered as a gifted research scientist, agronomist, botanical pioneer, professor and organizer who is said to have always appeared in public dressed in khaki. He has also been honored for his tireless work to further higher education in Ecuador, both as an administrator and, later in life, as a politician. At the 2010 unveiling of a bust by Ecuadorian sculptor Jorge Avila which commemorates Pachano’s many contributions and achievements, his grandson and namesake described him as a “promoter of the people.”

  Among Pachano’s many recognized and lasting contributions was the bringing of a now famous white peach to Ambato (the waytambo or guaytambo), discovering 58 new plant diseases, his furtherment of the development of agronomy in Ecuador based on his studies of ways to improve agricultural methods, increase land productivity and implement beneficial new technologies in Ecuador, including bacteriology, microbiology and plant pathology, and for his travel to Europe locating and successfully recruiting new teachers for la Quinta Normal de Agricultura, after becoming its Director. 

  In 1943, the Ecuadorian national government formally honored Ing. Abelardo Pachano Lalama as “Gran Oficial en Primer Grado,” to acknowledge his lifelong service to his country. Among the many things Pachano is still remembered for is his passionate love for the land and his statement that Ambato was his spiritual mother.

  Appropriately, Ing. Abelardo Pachano Lalama was further honored with his grave being at the base of his beloved namesake, Trichocereus (Echinopsis) pachanoi. 


Abelardo Pachano Lalama
Date & photographer not available to us
From the Ambato Municipality’s webpage
featuring Ambato’s illustrious citizens



   Be aware that there are other well-known Ecuadorians named Abelardo Pachano, including his grandson, and that he came from a family with many members who earned their fame and reputations on their own achievements and contributions. Confusions between them can be found even in Ecuador as Pachano’s bust can be found being described online as being a prominent Ecuadorian banker (which was one of his brothers)!


pachanoi & pachanot: Topic 2


South American Trichocereus pachanoi
compared to
the predominate “pachanot” cultivated in the USA


  This page is a bit image heavy. . . 

  As was mentioned previously, I began referring to this as pachanoi PC out of laziness, namely when growing tired of typing or speaking using ‘the predominate cultivar of Trichocereus pachanoi‘ as a noun. Or PC could as easily refer to the ‘predominate clone’ since it does seem to be produced entirely vegetatively despite it freely flowering & readily hybridizing — or *maybe* it should stand for politically correct,  I don’t know.  (I do know that I have grown to doubt that it is actually a pachanoi and am presently suspecting it may be a pachanoi  hybrid. Let’s come back to that later.)
  Questions have been raised about the culturecentrism of this “PC” view as a basis for a designation. As it is not necessarily the predominate cultivar elsewhere in the world this term PC needed abandonment and replacement.  Not for sake of proposing a name but simply to be able to have a unique noun to be able use as a term of reference so we can discuss the matter.
   As a result, in this discussion it is jokingly referred to as Trichocereus pachanot.
  This is the primary Western cultivar sold in the US under the names Trichocereus pachanoi, San Pedro and sometimes as Echinopsis peruviana in southern California. 

   This is that same bona fide pachanoi growing in a shaman’s garden near Cuzco
(Photo copyright by Geneva Photography)

Trichocereus pachanoi near Cuzco, Peru. Copyright by Geneva Photography.

  Notice the details of the flowers and how smooth edged this plant is? Also how indented/sunken the areoles are and the planar relationship they have to the median of the rib? Take a closer look here or farther below. Now go back to Backeberg’s pachanoi photo and compare this and then compare both to the pachanot.
  Spines here and in Backeberg’s photo are shorter than on the pachanot but spine length is something that can almost be disregarded (within reason) for being a variable characteristic. When they have short spines, it is a common thing for the short expressions of the spination on pachanoi to be consistently much shorter than the already short spines of the pachanot

  Many of the trichs show ranges of characteristics rather than set characteristics so it is easy to become diverted from some important points concerning the predominate cultivar.
a) It does not match the description of pachanoi as given by Rose & others in perhaps minor but very consistent ways.
b) It is readily differentiable from the pachanoi that seems to be most common in Ecuador and Peru. This is true of its morphology, its floral elements and its fruit.
c)  Thus far it has NOT been encountered in the wild or in use among Peruvian shamans.
d) It shows characteristics of both its flower and its fruit, as well as intensely vigorous growth, that are suggestive of it being a selection derived from a hybrid.
e) It is dramatically lower in alkaloid content than a bona fide pachanoi such as would be selected for ceremonial use by a shaman in Peru.
  While a pachanoiXbridgesii is at least plausible, there are other possibilites.
  We may never know the answer with any degree of certainty – perhaps not even with a lot of work that is yet to be done.

  Below we will soon be seeing a series of typical pachanoi from South America compared to the pachanot that we most commonly have growing in the US.

  The first images were shared by MS Smith who brought this subject to my attention in the first place. All of these images are said to be of Ecuadorian pachanoi.
  The one on the left is said to be a photo of a voucher collected in Ecuador by Timothy Plowman. The ones on the right were said to be taken in Ecuador as well.
  I do not know their photographers.



  These next two tips are both Ecuadorian pachanoi sold by Karel Knize in Lima, Peru and shipped to Texas.


  Now this is going to start to get interesting. Or perhaps at some point it will become just boringly repetitive, so feel free to skip ahead whenever that happens to you.
  On the left below is a pachanoi in Peru and on the right is a US horticultural pachanot.
  Pay particular attention to the spination, areoles, flower buds, flowers, pericarpels, tubes, scales, hairs arising from the axils of those scales, the fruit and the contour of the ribs.



  Ecuadorian pachanoi from Knize (KK339) on the left and on the right pachanot




  Ecuadorian pachanoi from Knize (KK339) on the left and on the right pachanot



  bona fide pachanoi can sometimes be encountered in the US as is shown on the left (Photo by Anonymous) and on the right is our pachanot again.



  Peruvian pachanoi on the left (photograph by Grizzly) and on the right pachanot.



  Peruvian pachanoi from Matucana (photo from Kitzu) on the left and on the right pachanot.



  Ecuadorian pachanoi from Knize on the left and on the right pachanot.



Ecuadorian pachanoi from Knize on the left and on the right pachanot.


  Ecuadorian pachanoi from Knize on the left and on the right pachanot.


  Flower buds
  Upper left image is from Peru: Photographer is unknown to us.
  The bottom left and the entire right column are pachanot.


  Flower buds
In Peru on left (Geneva Photography)/ On right is the pachanot


  A closer look
In Peru on left (Geneva Photography)/ On right is the pachanot


  In Peru on left (Photographer?)/ On right is the pachanot


  Ovary & tube
In Peru on left (Geneva Photography)/ On right is the pachanot


  Flower tube/receptacle
  Bona fide pachanoi growing in Oz is on left (photo by Zariat) and on right is typical US pachanot cultivar.



  pachanoi near Cuzco, Peru on left (Geneva photography) and pachanot in Oakland, California on right



  Flowers & fruit:
  Peruvian pachanoi photographed by Friedrich Ritter is on the top left and two more Peruvian pachanoi are below it. The pachanot on the right were in California.




  The next image is all the US pachanot cv.
  For pachanoi the ovaries were described as being covered with black wool.
  While these typically do show very short black or dark brown hairs along the axils of the scales on the tube and similarly on the ovary/fruit they are generally obscured by white and/or light brown and/or greyish wool and can be absent. Compare this with the examples of similar locations on the floral tube, ovary and fruit on the Peruvian pachanoi shown above.




  Peruvian pachanoi on left. pachanot on right.


To bring this conversation back towards the elephant in the room:

 If anyone wonders WHY this cultivar now predominates the US market almost to uniformity consider that it shows intense vigor permitting commercial operations such as can be seen below.
  This shows but a small part of a single professional propagator’s mother plants:
(Photos by Anonymous)



   Reflect on this undeniable observation: The pachanot is much faster growing, far more cold tolerant, and is both more rot resistant and more water tolerant than a bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi. In fact if a person pumps their pachanot with water it grows almost as well as watermelons.
The simple mechanics of its vegetative propagation combined with its popularity as an ornamental obviously would favor it becoming the predominate horticultural offering over a fairly short period of time (in this case a few decades – possibly as little as around fifty years if it involved Paul Hutchison but there is also evidence suggesting it might have occurred as long ago as the 1930s if it was something from Harry Blossfeld. A more detailed discussion of the existing evidence will be appearing in the next edition of the San Pedro book which will be available on this website along with the rest of Sacred Cacti 4th edition.)

   A small group of friends and I are still actively searching for confirmation that this is what actually occurred.
  It is now so prevalent in US horticulture that it is presently fairly rare to encounter anything else being produced commercially.

   If anyone has more information concerning this plant’s origin, especially if you have facts to the contrary and/or if you can tell us its precise point of entry into US horticulture or offer any additional details, please contact us at:



DOT  net


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Pachanoi or pachanot; Topic 1 Backeberg

Or more specifically why “Backeberg’s clone” is mythology


  I unfortunately have helped to widely propagate this mistake (now an established urban legend) in print by including it in my books Sacred Cacti and San Pedro.

  What most people refer to as Backeberg’s clone is the predominate cactus sold as Trichocereus pachanoi  in US horticulture.

  We have all no doubt seen many thousands of feet of it growing in countless people’s gardens in multiple states.

  It is even featured in the very center of the front cover of the Trout’s Notes book San Pedro which has an entire section of photographs more or less devoted to it.

  While the search is still ongoing and far from complete, thusfar I can find no proof that this plant is known from the wild.

  Just to be sure that our subject is clear, here is an example or three (all are in California):


Trichocereus pachanot at LAA

  And a close-up of a fairly typical tip.

Trichocereus pachanot close

  And of a fairly typical areole.

Trichocereus pachanot spines & areole close-up


   And another picture showing a flowering plant that is still growing at the former site of Carl Eltzner’s cactus nursery in Oakland.

Trichocereus pachanot at Eltzner's in Oakland, California


   This on the other hand is Backeberg’s actual photograph of a bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi taken from his 1959 Die Cactaceae. (Backeberg encountered this plant in Peru.)

This IS Backeberg's collection of  Trichocereus pachanoi from Huancabamba, Peru; taken from Die Cactaceae


  The differences are both subtle and not so subtle.
Whatever the pachanot turns out to be it is clearly not the same creature that Backeberg shows here. For those not yet convinced please bear with me and check out some more images of bona fide pachanoi.


  This next image is a bona fide pachanoi growing in shaman’s garden near Cuzco, Peru (Photo copyright Geneva Photography; reproduced here with permission.)

  Notice how nicely this matches Backeberg’s photo and how different it is from the predominate cultivar in the USA?


Trichocereus pachanoi near Cuzco, Peru. Copyright by Geneva Photography


  This preceeding image will reappear with more comments elsewhere here but I wanted to have a copy here for ease of comparison with the other images on this page.

  This next shot shows a close-up of a tip of a Peruvian pachanoi (the shininess is due to this tip cutting having been handled excessively).

Trichocereus pachanoi tip from the witches market in Lima, Peru. Copyright by Grizzly


For more of what appears to be the same thing
but obtained through an unrelated source


For a closer view of more of the same but
from Ecuador via yet another unrelated source


  Another view of another bona fide Trichocereus pachanoi in Peru.


Trichocereus pachanoi growing in Peru. Copyright by Grizzly


Both photographs above are copyright Grizzly.


Just to be sure that no one forgets that pachanoi can be variably spiny.


  We will be exploring this subject in more detail but could summarize this by saying that the plant now mistakenly called Backeberg’s clone (namely our pachanot) is not the same plant Backeberg recognized as pachanoi at Huancabamba and claims to have brought into horticulture in Germany in 1931.

  I have some questions about this latter claim as well as it appears that pachanoi may already have been *in horticulture in the USA* by, if not well before, 1930 and it does not appear that anyone in Europe or elsewhere preserved any knowledge of which European pachanoi might have come from Backeberg.


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Photos are by Keeper Trout except where indicated otherwise.

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