Eulychnia acida, also known as Copao, is an endemic species belonging to the family of Cactaceae. It is a large tree-like cactus native to Chile.
Eulychnia acida is an endangered species protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species).
The Copao is 1.5 to 6 m tall. It has long, flexible and docile spines. Its flowers are medium-sized and remain open day and night. The short petals are pink and white. The Copao can live up to 100 years.
The cactus produces a green fruit that is about the size of a grapefruit. You cut the fruit open and eat the insides. The fruit is very juicy and acidic in taste.
The cactus prefers full sun and can tolerate dry soil conditions.
For thousands of years this plant remained unaltered in its habitat, but in recent decades, it has been exterminated in peri-urban areas, human actions, or used to extract timber to develop "rain sticks" artifact that is exported to many countries. They are traditionally made in Chile from the dried skeletons of the stems of the cactus.
The biggest disaster for copaos came with the expansion of vineyards and fruit orchards on the slopes, with modern irrigation, as they have been removed and replaced by exotic species such as citrus, avocado trees, vines and other intensive irrigated crops.
Hardiness zone: 10-11