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Family Cactaceae
Peruvian apple
Cereus repandus (L.) Mill.

Scientific names Common names
Acanthocereus horribarbis (Salm-Dyck) Borg. Column cactus (Engl.)
Cactus repandus L. Giant club cactus (Engl.)
Cactus perivianus L. Hedge cactus (Engl.)
Cephalocereus atroviridis (Backeb.) Night-blooming cereus (Engl)
Cephalocereus remolinensis (Backeb.) Peruvian apple (Engl.)
Cereus atroviridis Backeb. Peruvian apple cactus (Engl.)
Cereus gracilis Haw. Peruvian cactus (Engl.)
Cereus grenadensis Britton & Rose Peruvian torch (Engl.)
Cereus horribarbia Salm-Dyck Queen of the night (Engl.)
Cereus lanuginosius Mill.  
Cereus margaritensis J.R.Johnst.  
Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill.  
Cereus remolinensis Backeb.  
Cereus repandus (L.) Mill.  
Pilocerus atroviridis Backeb.  
Pilocerus fricii Backeb.  
Pilocerus remolinensis Backeb.  
Pilocerus repandus (L.) Schum.  
Piptanthocereus peruvianus (L.) Riccob.  
Stenocereus peruvianus (L.) R.Kiesling  
Subpilocereus atroviridis (Backeb.) Backeb.  
Subpilocereus grenadensis (Britton & Rose) Backeb.  
Subpilocereus margaritensis (J.R.Johnst.) Backeb.  
Subpilocereus remolinensis (Backeb.) Backeb.  
Subpilocereus repandus (L.) Backeb.  
Cereus peruvianus (L.) Mill. is a synonym of Cereus repandus.
Cereus repandus (L.) Mill. is an accepted name. KEW: Plants of the World Online
Cereus repandus is very similar in appearance to and often confused with Cereus hildmannianus.
Plant used to be known as Cereus peruvianus and is often sold as such.
Many compilations and studies are published listing Cereus repandus and C. peruvianus as synonyms, and some list C. peruvianus as synonym of Cerus hildmannianus.
While popularly called Peruvian apple or sometimes labeled Cereus peruvianus, the plant did not originate in Peru.
Alas, there is a confusing attribution and sharing of common names.

Other vernacular names
ISRAEL: Koubo.
SPANISH: Cadushi.
OTHERS: Pitaya, Kayush, Mandacaru.

Gen info
- The name 'cereus' originates in a book by Tabernaemontanus published 1625 and refers to the candle-like form of Cereus hexagonus. and now includes all known cacti with very elongated bodies.
- The genus name "Cereus" derives from Latin, meaning "wax" or "thorn." The specific epithet "repandus" derives from Latin, meaning "spread out or flattened back" referring to the slightly unneven and eaved ribs.
- It is being touted as an alternative to the gangling  and mangy dragon fruit tree. Peruvian apple has the same taste and consistency as the dragon fruit.
- A commercial breeding program in Israel named the plant "Koubo."

• Cereus repandus is a large shrubby or tree-like cactus with many columnar stems, reaching a height of 10 m. usually much branched from the base. With scaffolding support, it can grow to a height of 34 m. Stems are gray-green to blue-green, cylindrical with 8-13 ribs, sometimes segmented, and up to 20 cm in diameter. Thorns are variable, numerous, gray,  and needle-like, but occasionally missing. Longest thorn up to 5 cm long. Flowers are large, white or cream-colored with reddish tips, up to 15 cm in diameter, borne on an elongated tube, somewhat fragrant, tube short and often ridged, stigma exerted before flower open, and nocturnal, which only open for one night. Fruits are without thorns, spherical or egg-shaped, up to 4 cm long, varying in color from dark red, purple, or yellow, containing small, edible, crunchy seeds, the flesh sweetens as it ripens.

• The large-sized flower (~16 cm diameter) opens almost exclusively at night, between sunset and sunrise, as a 24 h rhythm during a specific 3-4 dat span of the lunar cycle (full moon, with a strong correlation between moon phase and number and proportion of flowers in bloom. (11)

- Recently introduced.
- Ornamental cultivation.
- Native to Aruba, Columbia, Netherlands Antilles, Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Windward Is. (1)

- Aqueous extract from callus culture yielded carbohydrate and protein contents estimated at 53.4% and 0.66%, respectively, composed primarily of arabinose and galacturonic acid, with minor amounts of glucose. (see study below) (4)
- Phytochemical screening of dried stem powder yielded alkaloids, carbohydrates, saponins, glycosides, quinones, and coumarins with absence of phenols, flavonoids, proteins, terpenoids, phytosterols. (6)
- Study of cell cultures yielded high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, such as w-3, w-6, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. (see study below) (8)

- Attracts bees and butterflies.
- Studies have suggested anti-obesity, anti-ulcer, antiproliferative, antioxidant properties.

Parts used
Flesh, callus.


- Fruits and stems are edible. Fruit is eaten fresh, the flesh with a mild and sweet flavor. Also used in beverages.
- In Aruba and Cura Vao, the green flesh is dried, powdered, or freshly eaten in a mucilaginous soup (cadada in Aruba). It is also cooked with bits of salted pork, goat meat, fish, sweet red pepper and tomatoes.
-  No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- The green layer of flesh, found between the cuticle and yellow-colored firm layer of the shoot, is sliced off, sun or fire dried, and consumed to treat diarrhea.
- In the Goalpara District in N.E. India, used for the treatment of cough: Fleshy leaf is roasted over fire, the withered leaves than squeezed and the greenish juice expressed. Juice taken with honey, a teaspoon twice daily for 3-4 days. (9)
- Inner cane-like wood used in wattle and daub construction.

- Agroforestry: Used as cactus fences.
- Fodder: Has good potential as food and feed in arid zones.
- Washing: Slice of cactus used as soap to wash dishes or one's body.

Antiulcer / Callus Culture:
Study evaluated an aqueous extract from Cereus peruvianus callus culture for anti-ulcerogenic activity in  in-vivo models of experimental ulcers in Wistar rats. Results showed the culture to be significantly effective against ethanol-induced lesions but ineffective against indomethacin-induced ulcers. (4)
Anti-Obesity: Study evaluated the effectiveness of a phytotherapic compound developed from Cereus peruvianus as an adjuvant treatment of obesity in rats fed with a high-fat diet. Sibutramine was used as positive control. The phytotherapic compound, KOUBO, was administered orally at  8 mg/jg twice daily for 30 days. Results showed the phytotherapic compound was effective in decreasing body weight in both male and female rats, with a similar profile to that of sibutramine. (5)
Antiproliferative Activity / Lipid Profile: Study a fatty acid profile in a callus culture of C. peruvianus. GC and H and C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed cells cultures contain high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, such as w-3, w-6, eicosapentaenoic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid. Biologic assays evaluating for potential antitumor activity used sulforhodamine B method observed 50% cytotoxic concentration of 250 µg/ml. Results contribute to the lipid profile and antitumor activity of callus cultures of C. peruvianus. (8)
Phenolic Compounds / Antioxidant / Cladode: Study evaluated the total phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of cladode extracts from C. peruvianus grown in southern Brazil. The profile of phenolic compounds identified five flavonoids not previously reported in the species of the genus Cereus. Total phenolic compounds may vary according to climate and weather conditions. Results suggest the phenolic compounds in the cladode extract has potential as human food and source of natural antioxidants. (10)

Seeds and plants in the cybermarket.

Updated September 2023
September 2022

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Cereus repandus / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Cereus repandus / Wikipedia
Cereus repandus / World of Succulents
Primary Characterization and Evaluation of Anti-Ulcerogenic Activity of an Aqueous Extract from Callus Culture of Cereus peruvianus Mill. (Cactaceae) / Melena O Jayme, Franciele Q Ames, Arildo J =B de Oliveira et al / Current Phamaceutical Biology, 2015; 16(5): pp 462-467 / eISSN: 1873-4361 / pISSN: 1389-2010 / DOI: 10.2174/1389201016666150303154342
Preclinical study of an antiobesity phytotherapic compound obtained from Cactus Cereus plants in male and female rats fed with high-fat diet: comparison with sibutramine / Maria Martha Bernardi, Helenice de Souza Spinosa, Esther Lopes Ricci, Thiago M Reis Silva / J Health Sci Inst. 2013; 31(3): pp 320-323
Preliminary phytochemical analysis of cactus stem extract / Gladiyarani S, Dr N Gunavathy / International Journal of Advance Research, Ideas and Innovations in Technology, 2021; 7(3): pp 713-728 /
ISSN: 2454-132X
From Areoles to Zygocactus: An Evolutionary Masterpiece  / A Synopsis of the Family Cactacea / Aaron M Socha / The New York Botanical Garden

Lipid profile and antiproliferative activity of callus cultures of Cereus peruvianus Mill
/ Debora Jacomini, Renata Costa Sinzker, Claudete Aparecida Mangolin, Regina Aparecida Correia Goncalves et al / Industrial Crops and Products, 2015; Volume 69: pp 408-414 / DOI: 10.1016/j.indcrop.2015.02.034
Indigenous Medicinal Plant Knowledge of Cough or Bronchial Problems in Goalpara District (N.E. India) / Kishor Deka, Namita Nath / International Journal of Pure & Applied Bioscience, 2014; 2(5): pp 80-87 / ISSN: 2320-7051
Cereus peruvianus Mill. (Cactaceae) as a source of natural antioxidants: Phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of cladode extracts in two collection periods / Adrieli Rodrigues da Costa Nunes, Claudete Aparecida Mangolin, Maria de Fatima Pires da Silva Machado et al / Curr Res Food Sci., 2022; r: pp 984-991 / PMID: 35721394 / DOI: 10.1016/j.crfs.2022.05.014
Blooming rhythms of cactus Cereus peruvianus with nocturnal peak at full moon during seasons of prolonged daytime photoperiod. / Ben-Attia Mossadok, Alain Reinberg, Michael H Smolensky, Wafa Gadacha et al / PubMed

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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