Trichocereus bridgesii (SD.) Britton & Rose – The Cactaceae, now called Echinopsis lageniformis because the name Echinopsis bridgesii was already taken.
C.F. Förster – H.Friedrich & GD Rowley 1974
CITES: Appendix II.
Origin of Trichocereus bridgesii:
Trichocereus bridgesii, also known as Echinopsis lageniformis, grows throughout Bolivia (LA PAZ, Chochabamba, Chuquisaca, Santa Cruz, Tarija. There are many close relatives, such as Trichocereus riomizquensis, Trichocereus crassicostatus, Trichocereus scopulicola and the populations from Isla Del Sol.
Synonyms of T. bridgesii:
Cereus lageniformis, cereus bridgesii, trichocereus crassicostatus, Cereus bridgesii var. longispinus, Cereus bridgesii brevispinus, Cereus lasiacanthus, Trichocereus boliviensis, Trichocereus riomizquensis (some of them), and many more.
Commercial varieties on the market:
KK919 Trichocereus bridgesii, KK920 Trichocereus bridgesii, Trichocereus bridgesii Cristata, TBM type A, TBM type B, Lumberjack, Eileen, Jeans, Psycho0, TBM, Penis Plant, Penis Cactus, Frauenglück or Frauenglueck, Trichocereus bridgesii var. Inermis, Eileen,and many more
Trichocereus bridgesii has been renamed to Echinopsis lageniformis by Friedrich and Rowley during their 1974 merger of the genus Echinopsis. The name Echinopsis bridgesii was already taken by a clumping Echinopsis species from Bolivia, which is a totally different plant and should not be confused with Trichocereus bridgesii.
Trichocereus bridgesii is also called the Bolivian Torch or Achuma and is a very fast growing columnar cactus from the high deserts of Bolivia. It its extremely drought tolerant and withstands colder temperatures than some other Trichocereus species. If you are new to cacti but want to grow one of the San Pedro type cacti, Trichocereus bridgesii is a perfect plant for you.
Description of T.bridgesii
Healthy plants of Echinopsis lageniformis Trichocereus bridgesii have a light green epidermis and between four to eight ribs. The spines can range in coloration from honey-colored to brown, and are located at the nodes in groups of up to four.
It grows similar to a tree and reaches a size of up to 5 meters. The Species is not as glaucous as Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus pachanoi and has a light green epidermis.
Trichocereus bridgesii reaches up to 15 centimeters in diameter and large specimens are often confused with Trichocereus peruvianus. The fact that very thick specimens can look a lot like Trichocereus peruvianus is a reason that there are many misidentified specimens on the market. Some sellers even label them “SAN PEDRO”, “PERUVIAN TORCH” or simply Trichocereus peruvianus / Trichocereus pachanoi, because they usually are more expensive as Trichocereus bridgesii.
It has 4-8 Ribs and the Areoles are about 2 centimeters distanced of each other. Four-ribbed plants are sometimes called “Trichocereus of the four Winds”, though it´s actually a lot more common for this species to grow or lose a rib than you would think. Besides, that four winds stuff is oftenly used as a marketing gimmick, though the plants grow and lose ribs all the time.
A Trichocereus that grows a rib looks very much like it would put out some monstrose growth, but on the long term you see that it´s just ribs.
But yeah, the larger they get the more ribs they can have. Trichocereus bridgesii has very broad furrows. The plant can reach up to 3-5 meters.
Spines of Echinopsis lageniformis / T.bridgesii:
4-6 needle-like, yellow Spines. Some of them are very uneven and vary greatly in length and appearance. Some large plants even lose their spines completely. This is something that we encountered a couple of times on larger plants and spineless Bridgesii´s look very much large hybrids between Trichocereus peruvianus and Trichocereus bridgesii.
Flowers of Tr.bridgesii :
The flowers of Trichocereus bridgesii are white and up to 20 centimeters long and 10 centimeters in diameter. Trichocereus bridgesii is a night flowering species and its fruits are usually up to 5 centimeters long. It had white petals and small scales and hairs on the rest of the flower.
Bolivia, La Paz
Trichocereus bridgesii as Grafting Stock:
Trichocereus bridgesii is an excellent grafting stock and is used extensively for that. Though it´s a great stock, it´s not as accepting as Trichocereus spachianus or a cereus. Nonetheless, it´s a strong and vigorously growing stock that will produce large scions very fast.
Regional forms of T. bridgesii:
The fact that most regional forms look very similar makes it very hard to differentiate between them. There are many known clones available, but Trichocereus bridgesii isnt just as variable as the Peruvian species.
The monstrose form of Echinopsis lageniformis/Trichocereus bridgesii is called PENIS PLANT or TBM, sometimes also called Trichocereus bridgesii Inermis. Contrary to the typical columnar growth habit of the species, the TBM cultivar displays short stem segments that branch forming a small bush. The upper part of each stem section is smooth and spineless, resembling a certain male body part. The lower part shows a tendency to form ribs and is spiny. The plant is light green in color.
Cultivation of Trichocereus bridgesii
This species is one of the strongest growers in the genus Trichocereus or Echinopsis. It´s VERY drought resistant and less problematic than other Trichos. Especially if you grow them from seed, because no matter what else you grow, they will be the ones to survive the longest if you suddenly “forget” to water them for a month or so. The come from Bolivia and live off very little water but also manage to compensate strong rainfalls and are rarely affected by fungal infections or mold. It´s a very thankful plant to grow, especially when you have the luck to plant them outside.
So, cultivation is pretty easy. Don´t water them when it´s cold. It´s the same treatment that you would give any other Trichocereus. Only water them during the hot growth season in summer. If they are in full growth and the temperatures are high, they like to be watered on a weekly basis, but it depends on how fast the soil dries up.
Hold back with the organics
They don´t like soils that contains too much humus and i´d recommend to grow them in a purely mineral soil mix, with pumice, coarse river sand and maybe a very little bit of standard cactus soil to make sure that they are able to take in the nutrients. Generally speaking, Trichocereus bridgesii is the archetype of a cactus that thrives on poor soils. I would not recommend to put them in full sun for the whole day but they can take much more sun that other Trichos that come from more tropical climates.
Winter treatment & frost tolerance:
Trichocereus bridgesii is able to tolerate mild frost. The minimum temperature should now go below -5° Celsius though. Trichocereus bridgesii usually has no problems to compensate light night frosts but the average minimum temperature should not be lower than 10° Celsius! That is around 50° Fahrenheit. One important factor in frost resistance is the humidity of a soil! Plants should be totally dry in winter to make it easier for them to deal with frost. That´s why growers in Europe and other countries with strong frost have to take em inside in winter. The moisture is more dangerous than the cold, though there is a temperature that will kill all cacti no matter how dry they are. Cacti require a bright and well ventilated space with a temperature around 10° Celsius. Not only ensure it that the plants soil system does not rot, it also promotes flowering!
Cultivation from seed:
Trichocereus bridgesii is very easy to grow from seed. The seeds remain their viability for 5-10 years and some even longer. The best germination rate can be expected within the first year though. The seeds require light to germinate and you only sprinkle them on top of the soil. As a germination medium, I would recommend a mix between sowing soil and coarse sharp sand. This reduces your chance of contamination and/or Algae/Moss production.
Moss and algae problems on Trichocereus
Moss and Algae are a real problem for cactus growers because they overgrow your seedlings and usually kill them. If you see green crap on your soil, that is exactly what I am talking about. The seeds only need very little water to germinate, so do not overwater them in the beginning. You can always add more water but you can never take back a bad overwatering because it usually washes the seeds away or will lead to rotten seeds and soil.
Germination temperature for E.lageniformis
Germination temperature for Trichocereus bridgesii or Echinopsis lageniformis is around 25°-30° Celsius. But be careful because small seedlings die very easily because of too much heat. Especially if you germinate in closed containers, temps can get quite high in there. The time needed for them to germinate is between 2-6 weeks. If nothing has germinated after that, it´s probably because a.) there wasn’t enough water to kick start the germination. In this case just add more water and wait some more. b.) the temperatures were not high enough. In this case, just increase the temps and continue to germinate. Or C.) The seed is dead.
Bad quality Trichocereus seeds
There are a couple black sheep in seed business who sell seed that´s between 10-20 years old and the viability is horrible. So if you did everything right and nothing germinated, it´s the seed. Seed quality on the market varies greatly and you never know what batch you will end up with. So if you had a batch batch, I´d recommend you to contact the seller and ask him about it. Stay friendly and polite and they will replace it because they are aware of the great differences in seed quality.
Trichocereus bridgesii can be grown from seed pretty easily. But you can also take cuttings and re-root them. This way, you can multiply your plants dramatically and if you are trying to get a lot of plants, you can also try areole grafting. Trichocereus bridgesii is pretty tough and you can basically stick it in a dry medium like sand and it will probably grow. Just make sure to let the cuts dry out and give the wound enough fresh air until everything is calloused. I use bird sand for that purpose, which is the mineral soil mix that you get in pet stores for the birds to take their dump in. It contains anise and some other minerals that just prevent mold and infections and it is perfect for rooting plants in it.
USDA Zones Trichocereus bridgesii:
10a, 10B and 11
Can be used as grafting stock or just because its´an amazing cactus. Besides, Trichocereus bridgesii is used as natural fence to keep away animals and people.
Photos of T. bridgesii
This is a Herbarium Sample of Trichocereus Bridgesii! Pic: Ben Kamm, Sacredsucculents.com:
TBM aka Trichocereus bridgesii Monstrosa Clone A and B
Peter A. Mansfeld – Trichocereus Bridgesii Monstrose B, Penis Plant
Bild: Codify from Perth
Fat bridgesii “LUMBERJACK” from Misplant.net
Black Rot on a Trichocereus bridgesii
Trichocereus bridgesii. Photo came labeled Trichocereus cuzcoensis.
Hybrid involving Trichocereus bridgesii (Rodni Kisar)
A short spine version of Trichocereus bridgesii (Rodni Kisar)
Trichocereus bridgesii ‘Jeans’ (Gus Freeman)
Monstrose version of Trichocereus bridgesii (Philocacti)
Trichocereus bridgesii in Bolivia (Ben Kamm)
A Trichocereus bridgesii cultivar
Trichocereus bridgesii (Simon Maddern)
Echinopsis bridgesii is not the same as Trichocereus bridgesii
Echinopsis bridgesii K. Trout. Please note that this Bolivian Echinopsis species is not Trichocereus bridgesii. The Echinopsis name was already taken, which is why T.bridgesii is now called Echinopsis lageniformis
Below: T.bridgesii ‘Bruce’ aka E.lageniformis ‘Bruce (GOT and LHB)