Garambullo (Myrtillocactus geometrizans) is an arborescent or bushy succulent plant that grows across 12 different states in Central Mexico. It is found high above sea level (between 2300-2700m), grows from two to eight metres in height and has grey spines. Garambullo cacti help in controlling soil erosion and filtering rainwater; they have a high degree of adaptation to weather change and provide food and shelter to wild fauna. Its flowers and fruit are also called garambullo. Its flowers are from two to three centimetres long; during anthesis, they are olive green with purplish or dark, bright green tinges.
Garambullo fruit is sweet and small, red or purple in colour and can be eaten or used for medicinal purposes. The fruit can also be used to make flavoured water, liquor, jams, marmalade and ice cream. When the fruit is dried, it is also processed to obtain pigments. When dried, the plants are a source of firewood in rural communities and used as fodder for all types of livestock. Dried cactus logs are hollow and can be used for producing electric lamps or flashlights. To harvest the seeds, the fruit needs to be ripened until it opens by itself and the seeds can be extracted by shaking. When kept at room temperature, the seeds have a storage life of ten months.
Although this plant grows in some towns and villages in the zone between Tamaulipas and San Luis Potosí and up to Queretaro, Guanajuato and parts of Hidalgo, it seems that its consumption as seasonal fruit is mostly in the latter states, perhaps a tradition of the Otomì tribe native to this area. In the Otomì communities from Villa del Progreso, the Garambullo is often used in different typical ancestral dishes.
The fruit is usually collected during the seasonal harvest for personal consumption. Garambullo fruit is only scarcely traded in traditional markets such as in the Cruz market or Escobedo market in Queretaro. Street vendors at these markets trade with no more than one or two kilograms of this fruit among their other day-to-day products.