CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii

Photographer:
Lynda Pritchett-Kozak

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii


Family: 
Cactaceae  
Common Name: 
Nichol's Turk's-head cactus
Author: 
L. Benson
Growth Habit: 
Shrub
CPC Number: 
1545

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholiienlarge
Photographer: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak

Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholiienlarge
Photographer: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak


Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii 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.

 
Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii


Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii is a small, long lived cactus found in southeastern Arizona. This bluish-green cactus produces intense pink flowers. Developing flowers are shaded by whitish-yellow wool that is nestled between radial spines. When fruits open, the rough black seeds (2 mm in diameter) lie on the wool eventually rolling down between ribs to the ground (Correll and Johnson 1970, Benson 1982). Although a single stemmed cactus, small seedlings around the base give plants the appearance of being multi-stemmed.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Arizona
State Range of  Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii
Habitat
  The habitat of E. horizonthalonius v. nicholii is primarily on alluvial fans composed of limestone-derived soils in the Waterman and Vekol Mountains (USFWS 1976). On both bedrock and alluvial fans, trees and shrubs are scarce, providing open, sunny habit for these cacti (USFWS 1986). Those located beneath shrubs and trees had lower survival rates than those in the open (USFWS 1986).

Distribution
  Some plants can be found growing on bedrock terraces and saddles on the mountain. Plants growing on alluvial fans form dendritic patterns (USFWS 1986).

Number Left
  There are two primary populations, located in southwestern Pinal and north-central Pima counties (USFWS 1980, 1985, 1986). Land ownership is Tohono O'odam nation, BLM, and privately owned.

Protection

Global Rank:  
G4T2
 
1/20/1999
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LE
 
10/24/1996
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
Yes
 
1/1/1986

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Arizona S2 8/1/2002  
  Sonora S1T1 8/26/1991  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Ecological relationships are largely unknown.

Threats
  In 1979, when E. horizonthalonius nicholii was first listed as endangered, threats included copper mining, urban development, off-road vehicle use and over-collection (Phillips et al. 1979, USFWS 1980). No evidence of grazing could be found on the BLM-administered site at that time. Currently, limestone quarrying, urban development, off-road vehicle use, and collecting remain as serious threats to these plants (USFWS 1986). Subsequent erosion after disturbances is highly damaging to these cacti. Because it is estimated that over 10,000 individuals comprise both populations, there is a misconception that threats can be buffered by the number of individual plants (USFWS 1986).

Current Research Summary
  There are currently more than 160 E. horizonthalonius nicholii specimens and over 700 seeds in the Desert Botanic Garden collection. The plants were salvaged from two sites and were collected in 1991 and 1993 from the Waterman Mountains. Almost 500 seeds were produced in cultivation, and additional seeds have been collected, but not accessioned, because they were from open-pollinated plants. Collected plants were initially heeled in a temporary sand bed until suitable planting sites were found. Many of the plants were potted into a sandy native soil and placed in the propagation area of the Garden. Seeds were processed and stored according to CPC guidelines. The plants would be used to produce seeds in a carefully controlled pollination attempt, to avoid any contamination with pollen from other taxa. One such attempt, accomplished by enclosing a group of flowering plants with a fine nylon netting, produced 462 seeds. Additional attempts will be made in an effort to build a seedbank of the species sufficiently large to use for reintroduction, if necessary. (Desert Botanical Garden 2000)

Current Management Summary
  No formal management plan has been implemented.

Research Management Needs
  Aspects of this species reproductive biology and ecology, demographic patterns and habitat requirements would aid in conservation efforts.

Ex Situ Needs
  Detailed germination studies are needed.

References

Books (Single Authors)

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

Correll, D.S.; Johnston, M.C. 1970. Manual of the vascular plants of Texas. Renner: Texas Research Foundation. 1881p.

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.

USFWS. 1986. Recovery Plan for the Nichol Turk's Head Cactus (Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii). Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. 68p.

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

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

(2002). Botany: Investigator's Annual Reports. The National Park Service: Big Bend National Park. http://www.nps.gov/bibe/iar/botany.htm. Accessed: 2002.

(2002). Threatened and Endangered Species in Pima County; Priority Vulnerable Species in Pima County. The On-line Sonoran Desert Educational Center. http://www.co.pima.az.us/cmo/sdcp/sdcp2/fsheets/index.html. Accessed: 2002.

Arizona Game and Fish Department. (1999). Plant Abstracts. Compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ. http://www.gf.state.az.us/frames/fishwild/hdms_site/Abstracts/Plants/abstracts%20-%20plants.htm. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Gries, C. 1992. Conservation Page. The Plant Press. 16: 10.

Nabhan, G.P.; Saucedo Monarque, E.; Olwell, P.; Warren, P.; Hodgson, W.; Gallindo-Duarte, C.; Bittman, R.; Anderson, S. 1989. Plants at risk in the Sonoran Desert: an international concern. Introduction and a preliminary list. Agave. 3, 3: 14-15.

USFWS. 1976. Proposed Endangered Status for 1700 U.S. Plants. Federal Register. 41: 24523-24572.

USFWS. 1979. Determination That Echinocactus horizonthalonius var. nicholii is an Endangered Species. Federal Register. 44, 209: 61927-61929.

USFWS. 1979. Service Lists 32 Plants. Endangered Species Technical Bulletin. 4, 11: 1, 5-8.

USFWS. 2000. Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP) for Pima County, Arizona. Federal Register. 65, 174: 54295-54297.

Reports

2001. Draft Report: Priority Vulnerable Species in Pima County, Arizona, as part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Pima County, Arizona: Board of Supervisors.

2002. General Species Information. Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Ecological Services Field Office.

Fonseca, J.; Scalero, D. 1999. Determining Valuable Species within Pima County, AZ: a discussion paper for the Sonoran desert conservation plan. Tuscon, AZ: Pima County Flood Control District.

Phillips, A.M., III; Phillips, B.B.; Green, L.T.; Mazzoni, J.; Peterson, E.M. 1979. Status report on Echinocactus horizonthalonius Lemaire v. nichollii L. Benson. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Prepared for the USFWS.


  This profile was updated on 3/4/2010
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