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February 8, 2021

Harrisia Genus & Varieties

About Harrisia

Harrisia also known as applecactus and moonlight cactus is a genus of night blooming cacti. This plant is native to Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and the U.S. with a few of the varieties considered endangered.

The genus is named after William Harris, who was an  important botanist of Jamaica. There are about 20 species Producing pink or yellow skinned fruit with white flesh.

Some varieties can get to a height of 20 ft. however most stay under 10 ft. The stems can be simple or branched, some are rounded and other four sided and most  stems have spines (some varieties more than others). The flowers are 6-7” long and the round fruit is 2”-4” in diameter. The white flesh has brix average of 11-14.

Harrisia cactus will not tolerate extended period of frost; they can survive to a minimum of 24°F

At Dragon’s  Alley Nursery we are currently growing Harrisia Brookii. We are looking forward to growing these unique plant and we will keep you updated on the progress in this blog.

Harrisia Species include:

Harrisia aboriginum
Harrisia balansae
Harrisia bonplandii
Harrisia brasiliensis
Harrisia brookie
Harrisia divaricata
Harrisia donae-antoniae
Harrisia fragrans
Harrisia fernowii
Harrisia gracilis
Harrisia jusbertii
Harrisia martinii
Harrisia pomanensis
Harrisia portoricensis
Harrisia simpsonii
Harrisia tetracantha
Harrisia tortuosa

About Harrisia Brookii

Harrisia brookii grows erect forming a many-branched structure. The main stems are up to 15ft in height/length. Stem typically 10 ridged with deep fissures between ridges. The areoles occur along the stem approximately 1” apart with 6 to 12 spines some reaching about 1” in length.

The flowers open at night and are up to 10” in length.

There are numerous stamens. The ovary is inferior and has numerous seeds. The fruit is a berry bearing small tubercles and areoles with white hairs. At maturity the fruit is yellow/white and is the size of a softball. The fruit of other species in the genus are known to be edible, we are hoping to have a chance to try it in the near future.

Harrisia brookii is not necessarily threatened with extinction, but is under supervision in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.

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