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Myrtillocactus geometrizans: Bilberry cactus

This cactus, known as the bilberry cactus or “blue candle”, is a native of the deserts of northern and central Mexico. It is a shrubby cactus growing to around 4 meters in height, and branches strongly as it ages. Mature plants are generally much taller than most other plant species found in the region, making the bilberry cactus a defining feature of the landscape. In some areas, entire forests of these cacti are found.

This cactus has the bluish-green color and waxy surface typical of the species. This waxy layer acts as a sealant, preventing vital water from evaporating in the hot, dry air.

Our Myrtillocactus blooms regularly each spring. For such an imposing plant, its flowers are quite small – just 3 centimeters long at most. They usually appear in small groups around the needles.
These flowers develop small, thornless fruit. Dark red or violet, they are similar in size and appearance to blueberries or bilberries, explaining how the cactus got its name. These fruits have a sweet, pleasant taste and are edible. They are harvested in the wild in Mexico and sold in markets as garambullos. They can be eaten fresh or dried like raisins, and are also popular in ice cream and cakes.

Audio file download
Myrtillocactus geometrizans: Bilberry cactus (MP3, 635 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Ehrentraud Bayer, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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