In 1905 Robert Roland-Gosselin described two large cacti that grow in the dry, cactus-rich area of southern Puebla, Mexico, naming them Cereus chende and C. chichipe. More than 40 years later Curt Backeberg described separate genera for each species, Heliabravoa chende and Polaskia chichipe, honoring Helia Bravo-Hollis, a Mexican cactus researcher, and Charles Polaski, a cactus enthusiast from Oklahoma. Arthur Gibson and Karl Horak (1978), in their critical study of the columnar cacti of Mexico, concluded that the two are closely related and placed both in Polaskia. Subsequently, the International Cactaceae Systematics Group (Hunt and Taylor 1990) decided that the two species of Polaskia (type, C. chichipe = P. chichipe) as well as the one of Escontria be included in Myrtillocactus. Later, however, Polaskia and Escontria have been considered as separate genera (Hunt 1999a). Thus Polaskia has two species, and Gibson (1988b) believes that many of their characteristics are primitive in the group of cacti related to Stenocereus. Polaskia flowers in summer.
Subfamily Cactoideae, tribe Pachycereeae. Plants treelike, 4-5 m (13-16 ft) high, much branched and forming a dense canopy 3-4 m (9.8-13 ft) above the ground. Stems bright green, forking repeatedly, 1-2 m (3.3-6.6 ft) long. Ribs 7-12, sharply triangular in cross section, margins with conspicuous sinuses. Areoles shield shaped, 3-4 mm wide, closely spaced alongthe rib margins. Central spines present or absent. Radial spines 3-8, grayish to blackish. Flowers small, open during the day and at night, urn to bell shaped, white to creamy white to yellowish green. Fruits globose, red, juicy, edible, 2-4 cm (0.8-1.6 in) in diameter. Seeds small, pear shaped to ovoid, dull black. Distribution: southern Mexico in Oaxaca and Puebla.
Polaskia chende (Roland-Gosselin) A. C. Gibson & K. E.
Cereus chende Roland-Gosselin 1905, Lemaireocereus chende (Roland-Gosselin) Britton & Rose 1920, Heliabravoa chende (Roland-Gosselin) Backeberg 1956, Myrtillocactus chende (Roland-Gosselin) P. V. Heath 1992
Plants treelike, branching terminally, to 4 m (13 ft) high with distinct trunks to 80 cm (31 in) high and 25-30 cm (9.8-12 in) in diameter. Stems straight or curving slightly, yellowish
Pilosocereus tuberculatus, photograph by Urs Eggli
Polaskia chichipe, photograph by Charles Glass ameter; pericarpel tubercles raised, with long golden bristles and hairs. Fruits globose, 3.5-4 cm (1.4-1.6 in) in diameter, with clusters of short thin spines. Distribution: Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico.
Polaskia chichipe (Roland-Gosselin) Backeberg 1949
chichibe, chichipe, chichitun, chichituna
Cereus chichipe Roland-Gosselin 1905, Lemaireocereus chichipe (Roland-Gosselin) Britton & Rose 1920, Myrtillocactus chichipe (Roland-Gosselin) P. V. Heath 1992 Cereus mixtecensis}. A. Purpus 1909, Lemaireocereus mixtecensis (J. A. Purpus) Britton & Rose 1920
Plants treelike, branching more or less terminally to form distinct crowns, to 4 m (13 ft) high, sometimes with distinct trunks. Stems somewhat curved, green, to 7 cm (2.8 in) in diameter, less than 1 m (3.3 ft) long. Ribs 9-12, acute, somewhat wavy, to 2 cm (0.8 in) high. Areoles in the depressions of the undulations, 1-1.5 cm (0.4-0.6 in) apart. Spines gray with dark tips. Central spine one, to 15 mm (0.6 in) long. Radial spines 6-8,3-10 mm (to 0.4 in) long. Flowers open at night, yellowish green to creamy white, to 4 cm (1.6 in) long, 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 in) in diameter; pericarpels lacking spines, bristles, or hairs. Fruits globose, deep reddish purple, to 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. Distribution: Puebla and Oaxaca, Mexico.
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