CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Pediocactus despainii

Photographer:
Dorde Woodruff

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Pediocactus despainii


Family: 
Cactaceae  
Common Name: 
San Rafael Cactus
Author: 
Welsh & Goodrich
Growth Habit: 
Shrub
CPC Number: 
3129

Distribution
Protection
Conservation
References


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Pediocactus despainiienlarge
Photographer: Dorde Woodruff
Image Owner: Dorde Woodruff

Pediocactus despainiienlarge
Photographer: Dorde Woodruff
Image Owner: Dorde Woodruff


Pediocactus despainii is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Rita Dodge contributed to this Plant Profile.
The initial writing of this profile was funded by the U.S. Forest Service

 
Pediocactus despainii


This is the most recently described species in this genus after only being discovered in 1978 by graduate student Kim Despain. It is no surprise that this species was overlooked for so long; it is easy to miss due to its small stature and peculiar habit of receding underground for several months a year during dry or cold seasons. It is only noticeably visible for a short time in spring when it flowers. The San Rafael Swell region, where this cactus resides, is the most floristically diverse community in Utah and is host to 50% of Utah’s rare/endemic species (120 species). This cactus is considered endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and listed in Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This designation protects P. despainii from being traded internationally for commercial purposes (USFWS 2008).

This small solitary barrel-type cactus is subglobose – ovoid in shape and sends out a yello bronze to peach colored blossom between April and May, depending on moisture and temperature.


Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
  Utah
State Range of  Pediocactus despainii
Habitat
  This cactus occurs in the Great Basin Grassland in habitat characterized by scattered junipers, pinyon pines, low shrubs, and annual and perennial herbs. It grows on the calcium rich, fine textured soils derived from the Carmel Formation and the Sinbar Member of the Moenkopi Formation. It occurs on benches, hill-tops and gentle slopes between 1450 – 2800 meters.

Distribution
  Emery County, Utah in the San Rafael Swell region

Number Left
  Three small populations totaling ~20,000 individuals (USFWS 1995).

Protection

Global Rank:  
G2
 
1/1/1996
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
LE
 
9/16/1987
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  
No
 

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Utah S1 S1  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  P. despainii is one of the few taxa restricted to the limestone and siltstone outcrops which form the hills and benches in the San Rafael Swell region. It is often found growing among Sclerocactus whipplei, though there is little evidence of competition between this cacti and other perennials for space and light. Specific pollinators are unknown, but are believed to be bees of the Halictidae family.

Threats
  The small, restricted populations of P. despainii make it particularly vulnerable to human disturbances. It is a target for illegal collecting, and incidental damage from off-road vehicle use, human and livestock trampling. Its habitat is threatened by potential oil and gas development and gypsum and bentonite clay mining.

Current Research Summary
  unknown

Current Management Summary
  About half of the population area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, with the remainder managed by the National Park Service, Capital Reef National Park. The collection of plant material is prohibited by both federal agencies.

Research Management Needs
  • Inventory suitable habitat
• Conduct population viability studies
• Determine the biological factors controlling species distribution and abundance
• Control activities, such as mining, which affect these populations and their habitat
• Develop successful propagation techniques
• Prevent illegal collecting by promoting commercial trade of legal specimens.


Monitoring Efforts
  unknown

Ex Situ Needs
  • Continues seed banking
• Develop propagation protocol in greenhouse from collected seed
• Learn how to achieve successful pollination and seed production in the greenhouse
• Evaluate the phylogenic relationshipd between P. despainii and P. winkleri and cogeneric species


References

Books (Single Authors)

Anderson, E.F. 2001. The Cactus Family. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

Welsh, S.; Atwood, N.D.; Goodrich, S.; Higgins, C. 2003. A Utah Flora. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University.

Journal Articles

Heil, K.; Armstrong, B.; Schleser, D. 1981. A Review of the Genus Pediocactus. Cactus and Succulent Journal. 53: 17-39.

Maurice, F.W.A. 1988. A System of Propagation for Cacti. Cactus and Succulent Journal. 61: 14-16.

Reports

Anderson, J.; England, L. 1987. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; Rule o determine Pediocactus despainii (San Rafael cactus) to be an endangered species. Final Rule. Salt Lake City, Grand Junction: USFWS. p.21. unknown.

Heil, K. 1984. Pediocactus despainii Status Report. Farmington, NM: USFWS; San Juan College. p.13. unknown.

Jones, A. 2002. The ecological importance and biological uniqueness of the san rafael swell. Saint George. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. p.26. paper. Unknown.

Kass, R.J. 1990. Final Report of Habitat inventory of threatened, endangered and candidate plant species in the San Rafael Swell, Utah. Salt Lke City. BLM Utah State Office. p.87. paper. UT910-RFP8-028.

USFS, Intermountain Region. 1998. Pediocactus winkleri (Winkler cactus) and Pediocactus despainii (Despain footcactus, San Rafael cactus) Conservation Agreement and Strategy. unknown. USFS, BLM, NPS, USFWS, UDNR. p.32. paper. unknown.

USFWS Region 6. 1995. Utah Pediocactus: San Rafael cactus (Pediocactus despainii) and Wilnkler cactus (Pediocactus winkleri) Draft Recovery Plan. Denver. USFWS. p.28. paper. unknown.


  This profile was updated on 3/3/2011
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