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What Is a Garambullo?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2014
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Garambullo is a tree-like cactus plant that features small white or pale pink flowers. The species grows sweet, small red or purple fruits that resemble grapes and are popular treats in Mexico. Scientifically known as the Myrtillocactus schenckii, it is considered a hardy plant.

The treelike succulent plants can grow up to 16 feet (5 m) in height. They feature long, whisker-like spines at the top of each plant. Due to the presence of these spines, the Garambullo is nicknamed the Old Man Cactus. Spiky and wide, the plants can occupy a large space and may not be suitable for smaller gardens.

Some Myrtillocactus schenckii grow in stout shapes with short, wide trunks. Though many of the plants feature an olive-green color, some can have a frosted blue appearance. The copious spines on the plant may present a danger for children or pets; planters should use caution while handling or planting the cactus.

Cuttings from the Garambullo usually yield strong starter plants. These plants should be spaced at least 24 inches (60 cm) apart in order to ensure optimal growing room. Small pale flowers bloom from these succulents during the spring season.

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These cacti prefer direct sunlight. Unlike other types of cactus garden plants, Garambullo also requires some provided moisture. The species is, however, drought tolerant. These succulent plants can also survive cooler temperatures than many other varieties of cacti, and are able to thrive in temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4° C). Pollination of the plants typically occurs with the help of insects or bats.

Fruits of the Garambullo cactus are spineless, and are often eaten or used as medicinal treatments. Some claim that the fruits may heal wounds inflicted by stingrays. Another popular use of the fruit is in a tea imbibed to help provide relief from stomach pains, such as ulcers. Fermented garambullo fruit has been tested for potential toxicity. No significant harmful effects have been found as of yet.

As a food, the fruits are most often used in preparation of traditional foods, such as empanadas and jellies. Candy, popcicles, and other treats can also be made from Garambullo fruit as well. Sugar is typically not needed when using this fruit in cooking. As the fruit is considered less tasty than comparable fruits by many people, some growers prefer to use them simply as cattle fodder. These fruits stain clothing on contact, and the juice marks can be very difficult to remove.

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