CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanus

Photographer:
Lynda Pritchett-Kozak

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanus


Family: 
Cactaceae  
Common Names: 
desert night-blooming cereus, queen of the night
Author: 
(Engelmann) Britton and Rose
Growth Habit: 
Shrub
CPC Number: 
14387

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanusenlarge
Photographer: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak


Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanus is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Kathleen C. Rice contributed to this Plant Profile.

 
Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanus


One of the threats to this species comes from its popularity--this is a plant with a history of religious, medicinal, and ornamental use. Both private and commercial collectors have had a serious impact on the abundance of this species in its natural habitat by digging entire plants up. Ironically, the plant itself is relatively easy to propagate, so there is no need to dig entire plants up. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)

Peniocereus greggii is a slender-stemmed cactus with a large underground tuber that can reach the size of a basketball, and weigh as much as 15 pounds. Occasional specimens are known to weigh as much as 87 pounds. It is reported that native Americans utilized the tuber for food. The gray stems are four to six ribbed, to 12 mm in diameter, and resemble the stems of the shrubs that often support them. The stems are armed with short dark spines along the ribs. The white, scented flowers are large and beautiful and bloom for only one night. Fruits are red, ovoid, sparsely spiny, fleshy and many-seeded.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Arizona
New Mexico
State Range of  Peniocereus greggii var. transmontanus
Habitat
  Peniocereus greggii is found primarily in Sonoran desertscrub in central regions of the state, in areas where Larrea tridentata is found (Gibson and Horack 1978).

Distribution
  The known range has been expanded to include large areas in central Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, western Texas, and south into Sonora, Mexico at elevations below 4000 ft (Benson 1982).

Number Left
  There is one large, relatively widespread population occurring over the east-central portion of Arizona, with many sub-populations.

Protection

Global Rank:  
G3G4T3T4
 
1/31/2001
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
 
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Arizona S3S4 8/1/2002  
  New Mexico S2 8/29/2002  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Peniocereus may be supported or shaded by Larrea tridentata.
Plants in each population bloom in synchrony, each producing 3 to 5 flushes of flower from late May to early June. (Phillips 2000)
Individual plants are usually widely separated, and flowers are not self-fertile, so they must be cross-pollinated by hawk moths for successful seed production. These hawk moths fly hundreds of yards between and among populations. If pesticides are used heavily in an area for residential or agricultural use, hawk moth populations may be decimated. This situation will, in turn, affect the pollinator-dependent night-blooming cereus, as it will cease to produce fruit and seeds if no pollinators are present. (Phillips 2000)
Fruit is eaten by birds, and seed is dispersed in their droppings. (Phillips 2000)

Threats
  The primary threat is urban development, including construction of canals, housing, mines, quarries, roads and reservoirs.
Entire populations have been eliminated by private and commercial collectors who dig up entire plants. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)

Current Research Summary
  Desert Botanical Garden has five plants salvaged from an area slated to be destroyed for construction of the Central Arizona Project Canal, 3 cuttings from those plants, and approximately 10,000 seeds produced in cultivation. (Desert Botanical Garden 2000)

Current Management Summary
  There is no formal management plan.

Research Management Needs
  Research needs include understanding this species' reproductive biology and ecology as well as investigating the impact of Larrea tridentata on population dynamics.

Ex Situ Needs
 

References

Books (Single Authors)

Benson, L. 1982. The Cacti of the United States and Canada. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 1044p.

Kartesz, J.T. 1993. Species distribution data for vascular plants of 70 geographical areas, from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

Phillips, S.J.; Comus, P.W. 2000. A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert. Tucson, AZ: Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum Press.

Winkelman, M.J.; Nabhan, G.P. 1992. Pharmacological properties of some Piman (O'Odham) medicinal plants for the treatment of diabetes. Tucson, Ariz: 20p.

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

(1999). New Mexico Rare Plants Information. New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council: Albuquerque, NM. Version 15. http://nmrareplants.unm.edu/nmrptc/rarelist.htm. Accessed: 2002.

(2000). Center for Plant Conservation's National Living Collection--Profiles. Desert Botanical Garden. http://www.dbg.org/Collections/cpc.html. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Daley, R. 2000. The Sonoran Desert: A Case for Conservation. World Conservation.

Gibson, A.C.; Horack, K.E. 1978. Systematic anatomy and phylogeny of Mexican columnar cacti. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 65: 999-1057.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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