Plants usually treelike, sometimes shrubby, much branched, 1.5-4 m (4.9-13 ft) high, usually with distinct trunks. Stems usually erect but sometimes nearly prostrate, gray-green, 6-10 cm (2.4-3.9 in) in diameter. Ribs 10-16, low, wide. Spines needle-like, maroon when young, becoming gray with age. Central spines 1-2, erect, 10-20 cm (3.9-7.9 in) long. Radial spines about 12, more or less directed outward. Flowers borne near the stem tips, white with reddish mid-veins, 5-7 cm (2-2.8 in) long. Fruits globose, yellowish green, 5-6 cm (2-2.4 in) in diameter. Distribution: Illapel, Coquimbo, north toward Vallenar, Atacama, Chile. Some concern has been expressed among conservationists that extensive collecting of dead stems of Eulychnia acida for the construction of rain sticks (Chapter 2, under Other Uses of Cacti) might hurt populations of the plants. I have observed
Eulychnia castanea 323
that some populations near towns and villages may be slightly affected but that there does not seem to be a significant threat to the species.
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