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Rare Species

Peruvian Apple Vs San Pedo

3 differences between them & easy ways to tell them apart

Cereus Peruvianus cuttings (peruvian apple) propogated and without roots ready for shipping. This apple cactus is very straight
Peruvian Apple Vs San Pedro

The Basics

The biggest difference between Peruvian Apple Cactus and San Pedro is the genus (family) of cactus that they come from. Peruvian Apple is from the Cereus genus, while San Pedro is from the Trichocereus (also known as Echinopsis) genus.

All this means in everyday terms is that they are both technically cactus but they are not within the same family as each other.

Looks, growth and most other characteristics are also fairly similar but we will show you the subtle differences to tell them apart!

There is 7 easy ways to tell them apart!

1) Botanical Names

If you are looking to buy a San Pedro or Peruvian Apple cactus, most shops will show the botanical names which is the easiest way to tell them apart.

Below are their Nicknames followed by their botanical names-:

  1. San Pedro Cactus – Echinopsis Pachanoi (formally known as Trichocereus Pachanoi)
  2. Peruvian Apple – Cereus Peruvianus (Cereus Repandus)

2) Appearance

Appearance differences and similarities between San Pedro Cactus and Peruvian Apple:-

Differences-

  1. Ribs- The most noticeable difference between Peruvian Apple and San Pedro is the thickness and size of the ribs. Peruvian Apple (Cereus) varieties all have very thin & flat ribs (the vertical part), while San Pedro have fatter ribs that look more like speed bumps. See the picture…
  2. Spines- Peruvian Apple has 4-7 Radial Spines (the outside ones) and a longer centre spine. The San Pedro cactus often does not have this centre spine though and will only have up to 7 shorter radial spines.

Similarities- 

  1. Colour- Both have the same green colour stems that can go bluish on new growth.
  2. Areola- Both have the same colour areolas (the circle part the spines/spikes come out of)
  3. Shape- Both grow in a column & tree like fashion. As they get bigger, the single stem will eventually throw new arms.
  4. Flower- Both show off beautiful white flowers when they bloom at night time.

3) Origins

While they look similar, the San Pedro Cactus and Peruvian Apple are from completely different places.

San Pedro originates in Ecuador and Peru.

Peruvian Apple originates in South America.

Hybrids (Mixed Cacti)

Something cactus collectors have long struggled with is the ability to accurately identify a cactus with 100% certainty.

This is because of what’s called a hybrid. Hybrids are basically a mix between different species and it even occurs naturally in the wild.

The ability to mix cactus together has created many thousand different species, many even experts couldn’t tell a part without the label attached.

The cactus species may have a bit of both or look more like one and just a little of the other.

If you are struggling to identify your cactus, it may fall less under the “pure” form and be a mixture of a few species (types).

Without growing a cactus from seed, with an already identified cactus it can be next to impossible to 100% know the exact species.

Additional Info

The Peruvian Apple cactus is mostly used for ornamental purposes worldwide while the San Pedro cactus has a long history of being used in Andean traditional medicine for it’s psychoactive properties.

Within Australia, it is illegal to use the San Pedro cactus for any other use other than ornamental and some states do not allow it at all but the Peruvian Apple is accepted and allowed Australia wide for ornamental use.

Conclusion

Whilst the San Pedro Cactus and Peruvian Apple may seem similar on the surface, there is plenty of ways to tell them a part.

Whether it’s by their physical appearance with Peruvian Apple having much thinner ribs or it’s by the nickname and botanical name used.

The hard part isn’t working out which genus (family) the cactus belongs to, the hard part is working out the exact species!!