is a monotypic columnar cactus genus, and the sole species grows mostly in Baja California, but its range extends northwards to the coast and hills around San Diego; one favored location is Cabrillo National Monument and the Point Loma peninsula. It grows on sandy soils, on bluffs and scrubland.
This rare cactus forms colonies of many thin stems, up to 3 feet tall and 2 inches across, usually upright, sometimes leaning or decumbent. Stems have a dense covering of golden spines (30 to 45 per areole), of which the central spines (one, two or three) are much longer than the others, up to 2 inches. Spines towards the base become dark brown with age. The plants branch only if the growing tip becomes damaged.
Golden cereus blooms between April and June, towards the top of the stems; flowers are yellow, with reddish tips.