Autor: Britton & Rose
“Tree-candle”, because the genus is typically treelike, arborescent, with the presence of a massive trunk.
A genus of treelike plants, reaching more than 10 m high, with a thick cylindrical trunk (more than 1 m in diameter) and many branches. Branches erect or pendent, with 3 to 5 ribs, margins strongly crenate (undulate in D. undulosus). Spines rather small, aciculate, sometimes absent.
Flowers nocturnal, self-sterile, widely funnel-shaped, appearing near the apex, white to yellowish green more or less tinged with pink, nice-smelling (smells of birch), pollinated by bats (Monophyllus redmani and Phyllonycterispoeyi). Long cylindrical floral tube. Big fruits, globose to pear-shaped, one of the biggest among Cactaceae, up to 12 cm long, hard, with a very thick bark, green, smooth and naked, pulp strongly mucilaginous, indehiscent. Seeds rough,
irregularly reticulate, brown, covered with mucilage, possibly ornithophilous dispersion. The animal responsible for the dispersion, bird or mammal, has probably disappeared.
The genus Dendrocereus is insular and grows in the Caribbean islands in coastal undergrowths (maniguas) in dry tropical area, often near the sea. Dendrocereus nudiflorus is a truly endangered species, because we cannot find young specimens in the natural populations, as they do not reproduce any more.
Cuba (Granma, Guantanamo, Matanzas), Haiti (northwest), Dominican Republic (Altagracia, Pedernales).
Currently 2 recognised species:
– Dendrocereus nudiflorus* (Engelm. ex Sauvalle) Britton & Rose 1920
– Dendrocereus undulosus (DC.) Britton & Rose 1925
References: "TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE" - ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)