DHARWAD, Karnataka, India--A 77-foot cacuts plant ('Cereus peruvianus') has grown in SDM College of Dental Sciences premises near Sattur in Dharwad-setting the new world record for the Tallest Cactus.
Photo: Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade and his wife Hemavati standing next to the Tallest Cactus in Dharwad.
Known as `Cereus peruvianus' in botanical terminology, the 77-foot plant is still growing. Planted on August 15, 2002, the Tallest Cactus belonging to Cactaceae family has no leaves. The stem is 3-9 degree angled with tuft of spines present on the ridges.
The Tallest Cactus 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.
SDME Society chairman D Veerendra Heggade said the college authorities have erected a tower to support the Tallest Cactus.
Incidentally, the previous Guinness world record for the Tallest Cactus stands in the name of a cactus in Narayanpur of Dharwad. The cactus grown at Pandit Munji's house in Narayanpur was 72-foot tall when it made an entry into the `Guinness Book' in 2004. Now that plant has been reduced to 56 feet as it has broken.
Professor Parimala of the department of botany in JSS College, explaining the features of the Tallest Cactus, 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 flowers bloom during night and closes in the morning, and hence called night-blooming Cereus. The flowers are white when fully bloomed and copper coloured when closed. It has fruits called Peruvian Apple edible, red in colour.
In Latin America, it is called Pitaya and marketed with the name Koubo.
Parimala said good drainage, proper sunlight and low humidity are ideal conditions for cultivation. Botany lecturer in JSS College Dr. Parimala said that cactus belonging to the genus Cereus was originally from South Africa. “The cactus grows in areas where there is less humidity and more light,” she said.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Mangalore University, professor M I Savadatti, SDMCDS principal C Bhasker Rao, SDME Society secretary Jinendra Prasad, Hemavati Heggade, Suman Vajra Kumar and other dignitaries were present at the presentation programme.