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The PC Trichocereus clone- What the heck?
I wanted to clarify some things about the PC Trichocereus clone. What it is, where it probably is from and what it isnt. The name is probably the most overused name in the history of Trichocereus culture. I personally hate it and spent days discussing the whole situation with friends or interested people in the Trichocereus Facebook group. If you hear the word PC in a Trichocereus group, JUST RUN. Log off, go outside and be in your garden. Still, if you actually wonder what those guys are actually talking about, I am happy to shed some light on this issue. Please keep in mind that I hate to use the name of this cultivar, strain or whatever you might want to call it and I will only mention this one time and one time only.
Photo: moonunitbotanica.com / PC Trichocereus in Australia
PC Trichocereus in a garden. Photo: Forest & Kim Starr
Now what is it really and is this all BS?
It is a clone, but there also are other plants grown from seeds that are probably coming from the same site this clone is coming from too. In California and parts of the USA, this clone is really common around parks, schools or gardens. It is very similar to most other San pedros, but it originally comes from Bolivia. This plant was originally collected by Friedrich Ritter and described as Trichocereus riomizquensis.
This is the original photo from Ritter´s book. Do you see the white hairs on the flower and the way the areoles look? Well, keep in mind. You will need it later. Ritters official collection name of this plant was Trichocereus riomizquensis FR856 and they originally comes from Chyllas.
The original site is the Rio Mizque and we and my friends from Sacred Succulents visited the original site a couple of times. It is extremely similar to Trichocereus pachanoi, but differs in substantial points like the hairs on the flowers and the overall rib structure. Though it is common belief that the San Pedro cactus aka Trichocereus pachanoi grows in Bolivia, all the San Pedro related plants we ever came across IN THE WILD either belonged to Trichocereus bridgesii or Trichocereus scopulicola. That also applies to the regional type from the Rio Mizque. I have all kinds of photos of those plants on the pages about Trichocereus riomizquensis and I don´t want to repeat this information here again.
This is a long-spined version of this but there also are a lot of short-spined ones on that site. I seen them. Just like this PC, they have 6-7 ribs, those weird areoles and golden spines without swollen spine bases. Overall, they are just a short-spined version of Trichocereus bridgesii.
Let me just say that one thing that the Bolivian Trichocereus species have in common is their drought resistance. They literally live in a hot desert and are a lot more resistant to drought than Trichocereus pachanoi or some of the other Peruvian San Pedros. And that´s where I want to draw the line directly to this Californian clone. Clones & cultivars are not humbug or bullshit….cultivars exist in EVERY field of commercial cultivation and everyone who tells you different is a fool. One such cultivar is actually this Tr. riomizquensis that was originally described by Friedrich Ritter. Is is extremely drought resistant and manages to thrive in the Californian climate. That´s why this plant is literally everywhere there. We tested it numerous times…almost none of those Californian plants were able to mate with each other…simply because they were genetically identical and cuttings of each other. I seen whole nurseries filled up with them because they are so damn easy to grow. They just cut them in small pieces and stick them into the ground. And after five years, they sell it for 30-100 bucks. All those plants share the same flower characteristics and are closer to Trichocereus bridgesii than they are to Trichocereus pachanoi. They are covered with white hairs, which is absolutely typical for Trichocereus bridgesii. I know a Bolivian Trichocereus species when I see one…and this PC is one without a doubt.
The flowers of the PC:
Do you see all those white hairs? Good, because it´s important to differentiate between certain Trichocereus species. Trichocereus pachanoi tends to have black or brown hairs, while this PC has white hairs. And that´s typical for the Bolivian San Pedro strains.
Those two photos are from Misplant.net! Check out their seeds because they are amazing.
Well, just compare the photos and see for yourself. The top photo is the flower bud of this PC Trichocereus and the lower one is a bud on a Trichocereus scopulicola. They are at different stages in their development, but I am sure you see the similarity in the important parts. And the same applies to the flower on Trichocereus bridgesii, which is another Bolivian Trichocereus.
Scop from Misplant.net
Alright, now that we have this out of the way let me just say that the whole internet started having shitty discussions about the PC and what not. Most of the times, those guys just pick out one of the charasteristics of those plants and call everything that resembles this Californian strain a PC…which is a really bad generalization. Imagine you were a botanist and field explorer that collected seeds in Bolivia. Now you find a cool regionality that produced a whole lot of seeds. Friedrich Ritter was this guy and collected so many seeds that he could populate the whole world with them…which he probably did. He sold his seeds through his Winter Samenlisten (which were written in three languages) and shipped them everywhere. Like literally. People grew them, raised those plants and planted them in their gardens. Some in California, some in Australia and some in other places of the world. That PC clone from California and the rest of the USA is probably just one cutting that was grown from those seeds. All the plants cloned from this one plant are genetically identical. But that doesn´t mean there can´t be more plants grown from the same seeds…which in fact are genetically diverse. You know, this whole site at the Rio Mizque is pretty big and as far as I know, Ritter collected loads of fruits. These days, most labels are lost but what´s left are the plants. And they are usually slapped with a short PC comment in the Facebook groups, though that is only a tiny piece of the puzzle.
And just to make sure this posting here is not misinterpreted. Are all the plants called PC the same? NO, absolutely not. Many people throw this word around and have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Just one example. Here is a Bolivian San Pedro. As those are also related to Trichocereus bridgesii, they have a similar rib structure. Imagine them with long golden spines and you are good to go.
Well, okay. I want to come to and end but it´s important to make a very good point. YES, there are many San Pedros that are extremely similar to this clone. Not all of them are the same and I am sure there´s a fair amount that has absolutely nothing to do with this PC. But there IS a common clone in the USA (apart from the many other cultivars that are there, such as the three or four types of cereus monstrosa or all the other mutants that are currently flooding ebay. Nurseries are in the money business and they will replicate everything they can sell. And those Bolivian Trichos (and I count that PC in as well) are TAH (Tough as hell). You literally stick them in the ground and they grow. And that played a part in the fact that this PC Trichocereus strain is so common in some parts of the USA.
Alright, I want to sum this up. Everyone is a bit in the right here. The way this plant is discussed recently is out of control. And some people tend to forget that there is a huge number of plants that are really similar to this PC…and they are coming from the habitats. In Peru, there are similar plants and I just posted the examples that you can find in Bolivia as well. But that doesn´t mean that those plants were just invented by cookoo internet theoreticians. They were collected, sold and commercially cultivated. This plant does probably NOT come from Backeberg, which is another theory that was discussed heavily.
This is a nice Pic that shows the difference between Fed and Unfed PC Trichocereus