Heliocereus speciosus (Cav.) Britt. & Rose

Frost tender, semi-pendant to erect cactus with cylindrical, unevenly toothed, mid-green stems with prominent ribs and yellow to pale brown spines, and trumpet-shaped, purple tinged red flowers, to 17cm long, in summer.  To 2m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This splendid-flowered plant has been recently added to our collections by the Comtesse de Vandes, and blossomed for the first time in the hothouse of the well-ordered botanic establishment of that lady at Bayswater, where our drawing was made in July last.  The flower is not only beautiful, but has the additional advantage of enduring several days in perfection.  It is said to have been first procured at Paris from the national garden at Madrid by the Comte de Salm.’  [BR f.486/1820]. 

‘The blossoms, which for magnificence are scarcely equalled by any plant at present known, are usually produced in the summer, each lasting three or four days open.’  [LBC no.924/1824].  Cultivated in Britain since 1816.  ‘This is a most splendid plant when in flower, and is now very common in gardens.’ [Don].  BR f.49/1842.  Introduced to Britain in 1827 as Cactus speciosus [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues as ‘Cereus speciosissimus’ [T.303/1843].  Received per ‘Sovereign’ February 1831 as ‘Cactus speciosissimus’ and possibly ‘Cactus speciosus’.  [MP A2948]. Cactus speciosa, C. Ackermanii and C. truncatus were sent to John Bidwill in Tahiti on 29th May 1846.  [MP A2933-2, p.135].


Cactus speciosus Hook. (1828) = Rhipsalis swartziara Pfeiff.

Cactus speciosus Desf. = Phyllocactus phyllanthoides Link, which see.

Cactus speciosus Gill. ex Sweet (1826) = Mammillaria speciosa G.Don ex Steud.

Macarthur’s plant could also be Rhipsalis swartziara Pfeiff. or Mammillaria speciosa G.Don ex Steud.

Published Mar 02, 2010 - 03:40 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 05:16 PM

Figured is a cactus with flattened, serrated stems with prominent ribs and crimson flowers.  Botanical Register f.486, 1820.

Heliocereus speciosus (Cav.) Britt. & Rose | BR f.486/1820 BHL

More details about Heliocereus speciosus (Cav.) Britt. & Rose
Family Cactaceae
Region of origin

Mexico and South America

  • Cereus speciosissimus DC.
  • Cereus bifrons Haw.
  • Cereus speciosus Schumann
  • Cactus speciosissimus Desf.
  • Cactus speciosus Cav. 
Common Name

Crimson-flowered torch thistle

Name in the Camden Park Record

Cereus speciosissimus

Cactus speciosus

Confidence level medium