Pereskia bleo

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Pereskia bleo
Pereskia bleo.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Genus: Pereskia
Species: P. bleo
Binomial name
Pereskia bleo
(Kunth) DC.
  • Cactus bleo Kunth
  • Pereskia corrugata Cutak
  • Pereskia panamensis F.A.C.Weber
  • Rhodocactus bleo (Kunth) F.M.Knuth
  • Rhodocactus corrugatus (Cutak) Backeb.

Pereskia bleo (rose cactus, leaf cactus) is a leafy cactus, native to the shady, moist forests of Central America, that grows to a woody, prickly shrub about 2 m tall with large, orange flowers resembling rose blossoms.


Pereskia bleo grows as a shrub or small tree and reaches a height of 2 to 8 metres with trunks up to 15 centimetres in diameter. The olive-green to brownish grey branches are smooth. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches and are distinctly stalked with petioles up to 3 centimetres long. The leaf blade is 6 to 20 centimetres long and 2 to 7 centimetres wide, elliptic to oblong or lanceolate in shape. The five nerved leaf blades have four to six, often fork-shaped, side lobes. The thorns are either parallel in bundles or spread widely out. Long thorns on the branches are up to five to ten millimetres long. Along the main shoots there are up to 40 spines per areole, each 2 centimetres long.

The flowers are arranged in terminal lateral inflorescences. The bare, bright red, scarlet, salmon pink and orange-red-pink flowers reach diameters of 4 to 6 centimeters.

The fruits are more or less spherical, ripening yellow. They are edible but sour tasting.


The first description of the species, as Cactus bleo, was in 1828 by Karl Sigismund Kunth.[2] Augustin Pyramus de Candolle made it the type species of the genus Pereskia in 1828.[3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Pereskia bleo is found by rivers and streams in Panama and Colombia as well as in secondary forest, from sea level to altitudes of 1300 metres.

The Red List of Threatened Species of the IUCN lists the species as "Least Concern (LC)" or not at risk.


  • Malek SN, Shin SK, Wahab NA and Yaacob H. "Cytotoxic components of Pereskia bleo (Kunth) DC. (Cactaceae) leaves", Molecules, 14(5):1713-24. 2009.
  • Charles A. Butterworth and Robert S. Wallace, "Molecular Phylogenetics of the Leafy Cactus Genus Pereskia (Cactaceae)", Systematic Botany 30(4):800-808. 2005.
  • Beat Ernst Leuenberger, "Pereskia, Maihuenia, and Blossfeldia —Taxonomic History, Updates, and Notes", Haseltonia 14 : 54-93. 2008.