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Golden Torch Cactus Fruit
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The Golden Torch is a column-shaped cactus that is relatively narrow averaging 5-6 centimeters in diameter. They usually grow 2 meters high and have multiple stems that branch from a single base. Its exterior is deeply ribbed with 10-15 vertical channels that run the length of the trunk and branches. The large, snowy white flowers usually blossom in the spring, and if pollinated produce small, round green fruits. They are roughly the size of a golf ball and have a scaly spiny surface. When fully ripe the fruits split open revealing a white inner flesh that is speckled with tiny black seeds. The texture is quite soft and mushy with a grainy mouth-feel. Its sweet flavor is reminiscent of strawberry and kiwi with a hint of rose.
Golden Torch cactus fruit is periodically available year-round, with peak season in the summer and fall.
The Golden Torch cactus, sometimes called the White Torch cactus or just Torch cactus, is botanically classified as Echinopsis spachiana. Its common name is derived from its glowing golden appearance due to the layer of fine, sandy-yellow spines that cover its surface. As the plant matures the spines turn a silvery gray and become almost reflective in the desert sunlight. When foraging Golden Torch cactus fruit, do not be deterred by the fruits that have split open as it is a sign of their maturity and ripeness.
The fruit of the Golden Torch cactus is most often eaten fresh simply as a raw snack or added into salads. The juicy and moist texture makes it an excellent fruit for pureeing or making into sorbets.
The Golden Torch cactus is native to Bolivia and Western Argentina but is commonly found throughout the American Southwest and Mexico. It thrives in well-drained, loamy soil and prefers warm to hot, dry conditions. In some regions, the cacti are said to bloom periodically year-round, but most often the flowering occurs in spring with fruits following later that summer and fall.