CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus

Kathy Rice

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CPC National Collection Plant Profile

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus

Common Name: 
Arizona Hedgehog Cactus
(Rose ex Orcutt) L. Benson
CPC Number: 


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 Fish & WildLife
 Forest Service

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicusenlarge
Photographer: Kathy Rice
Image Owner: Kathy Rice

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus is Not Sponsored
Primary custodian for this plant in the CPC National Collection of Endangered Plants is: 
Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell contributed to this Plant Profile.
The initial writing of this profile was funded by the U.S. Forest Service

Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus

The Arizona hedgehog is a multi-stemmed columnar cactus up to 40 cm tall, with 10 tuberculate ribs. There can be up to fifty stems in a single clump, but it is more common to find clumps with 5-10 stems. Along the ribs, at growing points called ‘areoles’, clusters of 1-3 gray or pinkish central spines, with the longest spine curving down. The flowers are brilliant red, with yellow anthers and a green stigma. The brilliant red flower color is one of the characters distinguishing Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus from other varieties of Echinocereus triglochidiatus. Typical Arizona hedgehog cacti differ from E. t. melanacanthus in that the stems are larger, more robust, and notably fewer in number. Intergradation between E.t. var arizonicus, and E.t. var. neomexicanus occurs along the southeastern limits of its range.

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range
State Range of  Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus
  Plants are found on the rocky slopes of granitic canyons at elevations of 3,500 to 5,400 ft, and are endemic to chapparal habitats in central Arizona. They also grow on slopes in Arizona desert grassland, in or near the Superstition Mountains, an area with a high proportionate incidence of endemic plant species. Interior Chaparral and Madrean evergreen Woodland; also into desert grassland. Often with the following associated species: Quercus tufbinella, Quercus emoryi, Arctostaphyllos pungens, Cercocarpus montanus, Nolina Microcarpa, Dasyliron wheeleri, Agave chrysantha, Muhlenbergia emersleyi, Pinus monophylla, Juniperus erythrocarpa and Rhus trilobata.

  Central Arizona, Pinal and Gila Counties. Pinal, Dripping springs, Superstition And Mescal Mountains. Highlands between Globe and Superior. Devils Chasm has dacite substrate (Queen Creek), Gila/Pinal County line has much lighter granite (S. Bingham's locations on limestone would be separate species (Rutman 1994) Type location is near Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.

Number Left
  7 known populations


Global Rank:  
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:  
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:  

State/Area Protection
  State/Area Rank Status Date  
  Arizona 2 Highly Safeguarded 1993  

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships
  Investigation is needed into the taxon's susceptibility to fire and whether fire suppression and livestock grazing have contributed to a conversion of a grassland to a shrubbier habitat.

  The immediate threat to this taxon is copper mining. A large copper mining company is in the final stages of permitting and is planning to begin mining soon. Because the process of mining copper requires large amounts of water, dredging of the nearby Pinto Creek has begun. Pinto Creek is a nationally designated wild and scenic river. Other threats include the widening of Highway 60, and illegal collection, especially from the type location.

Current Research Summary
  Seeds have been collected for propagation by the USDA Forest Service. These are held and have been grown at the Boyce-Thompson Arbopretum. The source of these seeds and the fate of the plants grown from them is unknown.

As of 2012, research staff at the Desert Botanical Garden are engaging in DNA analysis for taxonomic studies using DNA extracted from cactus spines.

Current Management Summary
  Most plants occur on lands administered by the USDA Forest Service, Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, including plants within the Superstition Wilderness area. Some plants also occur on private property.

Research Management Needs
  Complete chormosomal studies are needed. Zimmerman (1989) recommended a morphological study of Echinocereus populations on a transect from the type locality up into the pinal Mountains to determine of var. arizonicus is conspecific with the ordinary E. coccineus that grows on Pinal Peak. E. Anderson does not recognize E. triglochidiatus v. arizonicus in his book, the Cactus Family (2000).

Additional Surveys are needed, especially in the eastern Superstition Mountains. If identification is questionalbe, photos and habitat notes should be brought in for examination by taxonomic specialists.

Monitoring Efforts
  The Globe Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, conducted surveys for this taxon in 1989 and 1990.

In 2012, renewed interest in copper mining in the region has prompted new efforts by researchers at the Desert Botanical Garden and the Tonto National Forest to locate previously unknown locations of this species.

Ex Situ Needs
  Additional seed collections should be made, even though the plants may be of hybrid origin. Plants should be grown from seeds for chromosome and detailed morphological studies.


Books (Single Authors)

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

Benson, L. 1982. The cacti of the United States and Canada. Tucson, Arizona. University of Arizona Press. pp. 604,606-607, 617, 940.

Benson, L. 1989. The cacti of Arizona, 3rd Edition. Tucson, Arizona. University of Arizona Press.

Lehr, J.H. 1978. A catalog of the flora of Arizona. Phoenix, Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden. p. 102.

Books (Edited Volumes)

Hunt, D.; Taylor, N.; Charles, G. 2005. The Cactus Lexicon. London, England: D.H. Books.

Journal Articles

Arizona Game and Fish Department. 1997. Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, Arizona. n/a: 5.

Bellsey, R.L.A.; Alongi, D.; Mount, D. 1996. Genetic analysis of three rare Arizona plants: Clematis hirsutissima var. arizonica, Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus, and Senecio quaerens. Prepared for USDI U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Phoenix, Arizona. n/a: n/a.

Ferguson, D.J. 1989. Revision of the U.S. members of the Echinocereus triglochidiatus group. Cactus and Succulent Journal of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America. 61: 217-224.

Personal Communications

Zimmerman, A.D. 1989. Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus. letter to Renee Galeano-Popp, U.S. Forest Service, Region 3, Botanist. U.S. Forest Service files.


Crosswhite, F. 1976. Threatened and endangered species habitat study area notes on Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus. U.S. Forest Service.

Parfitt, B.D.; Christy, C.M. 1991. Echinocereus arizonicus fieldwork associated with chromosome study at University of Arizona.

Phillips, A.M. III.; Phillips, B.G.; Green, L.T. III; Mazzoni, J.; Peterson, E.M. 1979. Status report Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus (Rose ex Orcutt). Albuquerque, New Mexico. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Endangered Species.

Phillips, B.G. 1985. Endangered species system information record. Phoenix, Arizona. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

SWCA. Inc., Environmental consultants. 1995. Biological assessment for the proposed Morenci land exchange. Bureau of Land Management, Safford District.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 1975. Threatened or Endangered Fauna or Flora: Review of the status of Vascular Plants and Determination of “Critical Habitat”: Notice of Review. Federal Register 40(127):27827.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 1976. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Endangered Status for some 1700 U.S. Vascular Plant Taxa: Proposed Rule. Federal Register 41(117):24536.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 1979. Determination that Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus is an Endangered Species: Final Rule. Federal Register 44(208):61556.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 1980. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and plants: Review of Plant Taxa for Listing as Endangered or Threatened Species: Notice of Review; Proposed Rule. Federal Register 45(242):82482.

USDI Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. Determination that Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus is an endangered species. Federal Register 44 (208):61556-61558.

  This profile was updated on 2/15/2013
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