Trichocerus spachianus

Trichocerus spachianus – Golden Torch cactus

Architectural, spiky, parallel dark green columns, with occasional spectacular white flowers.


This cactus is slow growing, eventually reaching about 2.0M tall with 10-15 ribs and 1-2cm long golden yellow spines. New pups arise from the base and grow upwards parallel to the main stem. In it’s native habitat this plant flowers in winter. However, in our personal garden it seems to flower in summer. In either case the large flowers, up to 20cm across, open at night, lasting well into the following day. This plant does not flower prolifically, but when it does they are amazing. It is a mescaline cactus, meaning that it produces and contains the psychedelic drug mescaline.


T. spacianus is native to western Argentina, but is commonly found throughout the American Southwest and Mexico. It has traditionally been used by native peoples as a recreational drug. It thrives in well-drained, loamy soil and prefers warm to hot, dry conditions. It is a declared weed in South Africa.

Soil / Aspect:

This is a relatively tough plant, withstanding frosts down to -5ºC provided the soil is dry. It requires free draining soil and good ariflow (though not exposure). Slightly unexpectedly it actually prefers not to be in all day sun – the one photographed above is growing near a west facing wall.


You can chose to leave this plant entirely to its own. It will benefit from some watering and normal liquid fertiliser during dry periods in summer. Propagation is the usual routine of severing a new pup as close to the main trunk as possible with a sharp knife, then leave it in a cool dry place for a couple of days before planting. It will take a while to root.