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


All photographs © copyright by their photographers.
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. 

Back to the article:

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

Use your back button to return

To go back to the article:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 

Copyright © by Keeper Trout


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.


Use your back button to return.

Or to go to:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 





pachanoi fruit compared to pachanot fruit


      The lack of black and dark brown hairs on the fruit of the pachanot (on the right below) might not be so conceptually challenging for me if Trichocereus pachanoi did not actually exist with blackly or dark brownly hairy fruit (on left below).


Copyright © as indicated 

Use your back button to return.

Or to go to:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 




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 

Use your back button to return.

Or to go to:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 

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 

Use your back button to return.

Or to go to:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: 



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)!


Trichocereus pachanoi in Peru


   Trichocereus pachanoi in Peru exhibits a fascinatingly wide range of forms. It is believed to have been introduced from Ecuador some millennia ago so this suggests either that is in error or that it has undergone some surprisingly rapid changes since its introduction. How much of that is due to potential interaction with previously existing Peruvian Trichocereus species and how much is the result of simple recombinant events and local environmental shaping over time remains to be studied.
  Trichocereus pachanoi has been intensively cultivated by humans for an unclear number of millennia although it is clear, based on the archaeological evidence, that it has been at least several. During that process it has been moved all over the Andes, apparently from Ecuador to Argentina, and has become naturalized in a number of areas in Peru. It is popularly cultivated and widely admired for its bountiful fragrant flowers.

   The existance of short and long spined variants is what has helped a perception of intergrading that has confounded botanists and caused some to pronounce a synonymity between Trichocereus pachanoi and Trichocereus peruvianus. Since Trichocereus peruvianus shows a similar spectrum of spination the resulting confusion is understandable.

pachanoi in Peru by Grizzly

pachanoi in Peru by Grizzly


Images are copyright © by Grizzly

pachanoi in Ecuador

pachanoi in Bolivia



Use your back button to return.

To go back to the article:

pachanoi or pachanot?

Additional material to ponder: