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A cactus plant that has grown in SDM College of Dental Sciences premises near Sattur, Dharwad, Karnataka, India, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records

Known as ‘Cereus peruvians’ in botanical terminology, the 80.5 feet cactus is still growing. Planted on August 15, 2002, the botanical specimen belonging to Cactaceae family has no leaves. The stem is 3-9 degree angled with tuft of spines present on the ridges. It has flowers up to 20-cm long, funnel-shaped white in colour turning brownish when withered. The flowering season is from March to October, with maximum flowering in September.

The college authorities have erected a tower to support the plant. Incidentally, the previous world record stands in the name of a cactus in Narayanpur, also of Dharwad. The cactus grown at Mr. Pandit Munji’s house in Narayanpur was 72-feet tall when it made an entry into the Guinness Records Book in 2004. Now that plant has been reduced to 56 feet due to breakage and disease.

Professor Parimala of the Department of Botany in JSS College, explaining the features of the plant, said it has its origin in South America. In India, it is planted in hedges and is rarely cultivated. It is also called Hedge Cactus, Peruvian Apple, Peruvian Torch, Peruvian Tree Cactus, Apple Cactus and Column Cactus.

The cactus’s flowers bloom at night and withers in the morning, and hence it is called “Night-blooming Cereus”. The flowers are white when fully blossomed and copper coloured when closed. It has fruits called Peruvian Apple which is edible and red in colour. In Latin America, it is called Pitaya and marketed with the name Koubo. Prof. Parimala said good drainage, proper sunlight and low humidity are ideal conditions for cultivation.

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