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Fouquieria columnaris

Pachycauls are plants with a disproportionately thick trunk for their height, and few branches.[1] This can be the product of exceptional primary growth (as with palms and cycads) or disproportioate secondary growth as with Adansonia. The word is derived from the Greek pachy- meaning thick or stout, and Latin caulis meaning the stem.[2] All of the tree (and treelike) species of cactus are pachycauls, as are most palms, Cycads and pandans. The most extreme pachycauls are the floodplains, or riverbottom variety of the African Palmyra (Borassus aethiopum) with primary growth up to seven feet (2.1 meters) in thickness,[3][4][5] and the Coquito Palm (Jubaea chilensis) with primary growth up to six feet (1.8 meters) thick.[6][7][8] The most pachycaulous cycad is Cycas thouarsii at up to five feet (150 centimeters) in diameter.[9] The tallest pachycaul is the Andean Wax Palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense) at up to 220 feet (67 meters).[10] and about 16 inches (41 cm) in diameter. The most pachycaulous cactus is the Bisnaga (Echinocactus platyacanthus) with primary growth up to 4 ft 4 in (1.32 meters) in diameter.[11] The largest caudex type pachycaul is the African Baobab (Adansonia digitata). One called the Glencoe Tree at Hoedspruit, South Africa has a basal diameter (not girth) of 52 ft 2 in (15.90 meters).[12] This tree suffered a severe trauma and is dying.

Examples occur in the genera[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gupta, I. C.; S. K. Gupta (1992). Concepts' Dictionary Of Agricultural Sciences. Concept Publishing Company. p. 348. ISBN 978-81-7022-301-6.
  2. ^ Stearn, W.T. (1992). Botanical Latin: History, grammar, syntax, terminology and vocabulary, Fourth edition. David and Charles.
  3. ^ Von Mueller, Ferdinand (1881). Select Extra-tropical Plants. Sydney: Government Printer. p. 50.
  4. ^ Kunkel, Reinhard (1982). Elephants. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc. pp. Color Plate on pages 100–101. Includes two adult bull Savanna Elephants for size comparison.
  5. ^ Carder, Dr. Al (2005). Giant Trees of Western America and the World. Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Pub. Co. Ltd. p. 130.
  6. ^ anonymous (January 1957). "<not recorded>". Principes. 1 (2): 57.
  7. ^ Caradine, Chris (November 1998). "A Day at Ocoa". The Palm Journal. [no volumes] (143): 20 with photo.
  8. ^ Riverside (California) Sunday Press Enterprise (September 6, 1964) page 39 Excelent photo with three people for size comparison.
  9. ^ Earle, Christopher. "Gymnosperm Database - Cycadales". Retrieved November 24, 2021.
  10. ^ Corner, Prof. E.J.H. (1966). Natural History of Palms. Berkeley, Calif.: Univ. Calif. Press. p. 289.
  11. ^ Britton, Nathan L.; Rose, Joseph N. (1963). The Cactaceae - Volume 3 (reprint ed.). New York: Dover Pubs. Inc. p. 170.
  12. ^ Esterhuyse, Neels; et al. (2001). Remarkable Trees of South Africa. Pretoria: Briza Pubs. pp. 6 (table) and 156 & 159.
  13. ^ Wickens, G. E.; Pat Lowe (2008). The Baobabs: Pachycauls of Africa, Madagascar and Australia. Springer. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-1-4020-6430-2.