Catalog Number: US 2363958
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. H. Beaman
Year Collected: 1959
Locality: Cerro Potosi, near top of mountain., Nuevo León, Mexico, North America
Elevation (m): 3600 to 3600
- Isotype: Andersen, J. W. & Beaman, J. H. 1961. J. Arnold Arbor. 42: 437.
Habitat and Ecology
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pinus culminicola
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pinus culminicola
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Pinus culminicola is only known from a few mountain tops. The largest and best known subpopulation on Cerro Potosí covered several km² but they have been substantially reduced by fires in recent years. Most other subpopulations (9-10) are much smaller in extent. The area of occupancy, derived from mapping herbarium specimens, is between 10 and 20 km². The actual area of occupancy is much less. The population is severely fragmented as it is restricted to mountain summits and does not occur in the intervening valleys. There has been a recent decline due to fire and a decline is predicted to continue in future unless adequate counter measures are taken. Consequently, this species is assessed as Endangered under criterion B1+2.
- 1997Endangered(Walter and Gillett 1998)
This species is vulnerable to fire during long dry periods (Perry 1991). In recent years, devastating fires have destroyed large parts of the population on Cerro Potosí and regeneration is very slow. Grazing and trampling also inhibit regeneration (Jimenez 2005). Fires may increase in other localities when they become more frequently visited by campers, etc., being in the vicinity of two major population centres. As this species has a very narrow ecological niche within the summit area it may be vulnerable to the potential effects of climate change.
Protection against man-made fires and the management of grazing is essential especially within protected areas such as on Cerro Potosí, a national park. Tourism and outdoor camping, picnicking, etc. need to carefully managed. Restoration programmes at the Cerro Potosi site have been initiated (Jimenez 2005). On a recent visit to the summit of Cerro El Potosi (April 2012), a slow recovery of populations devastated by fires was apparent (J. Perez de la Rossa unpubl. data).
Pinus culminicola, commonly known as Potosi pinyon, is a pine in the pinyon pine group, native and endemic to northeast Mexico. The range is highly localised, confined to a small area of high summits in the northern Sierra Madre Oriental in Coahuila and Nuevo León, and only abundant on the highest peak, Cerro Potosí (3713 m). It occurs at very high altitudes, from 3000-3700 m, in cool, moist subalpine climate conditions.
It is a medium-size shrub, reaching 1.5–5 m tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 25 cm. The bark is grey-brown, thin and scaly at the base of the trunk. The leaves ('needles') are in fascicles of five, slender, 3–5.5 cm long, and deep green to blue-green, with stomata confined to a bright white band on the inner surfaces.
The cones are globose, 3–4 cm long and broad when closed, green at first, ripening yellow-brown when 16–18 months old, with only a small number of thin, fragile scales, typically 6–14 fertile scales. The cones open to 4–6 cm broad when mature, holding the seeds on the scales after opening. The seeds are 9–12 mm long, with a thick shell, a white endosperm, and a vestigial 1–2 mm wing; they are dispersed by the Clark's Nutcracker and Mexican Jay, which pluck the seeds out of the open cones. The jays, which uses the seeds as a major food resource, store many of the seeds for later use, and some of these stored seeds are not used and are able to grow into new plants.
Because of its isolation on a handful of remote mountain summits, Potosi pinyon escaped discovery until 1959. It differs from most other pinyon species in needle number, with 5 per fascicle, rather than 1–4, and in its consistently shrubby stature. It is most closely related to Johann's pinyon and Orizaba pinyon, like them having the leaf stomata confined to the inner faces; it also differs from the latter in its smaller cones and seeds. Like these two, the white-glaucous inner surfaces of the needles make it a very attractive slow-growing shrub, suitable for small gardens.
Like other pinyons, the pine nut seeds are edible, but the inaccessibility of the plants prevents significant collection for food.
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