Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This wide-ranging species is distributed in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Sonora, and Zacatecas, and in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in the United States.
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Peniocereus greggii occupies a limited range in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico including southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, and Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and Sonora, Mexico.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Shrubs, erect to sprawling, usually inconspicuous. Roots turnip-shaped, usually 15-30 × 5-12 cm (much larger ones known). Stems gray-green to gray, simple or with 2-5 branches, 40-120(-300) cm, distally 8-20 mm diam., at midlength ca. 10 mm diam., often narrowed toward base; wood hollow, solid-surfaced cylinders, 4-7 mm diam.; ribs 4-6, prominent; areoles (3.5-)12(-15) mm apart along ribs, circular to elliptic, 2-5 × 2 mm. Spines (9-)11-15(-17) per areole, usually in 3 vertical rows; abaxial 3-5 spines appressed, yellowish white throughout or only at tips, to 3 mm, puberulent when young; adaxial spines black, subulate, to 1 mm. Flowers: nocturnal (remaining open next day), 15-25 cm; scales of flower tubes green, tipped red or brown; outer tepals greenish white with brown to reddish midstripes; inner tepals white or lightly tinged cream or pink (or rarely all rose-pink), lanceolate-attenuate, apiculate, 4-7 cm, attenuate to mucronate; stamens 2.5 cm; anthers cream-yellow, 2 mm; style white, 10-14 cm; stigma lobes 9-11, white. Fruits bright red, darkening in age, ellipsoid, 60-90 × 40-50 mm. Seeds 3-4 × 2-2.5 mm. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Cereus greggii Engelmann in F. A. Wislizenus, Mem. Tour N. Mexico, 102. 1848
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Peniocereus greggii grows in xerophyllous scrub. It grows under creosote bushes in desert flats and washes, which further reduces visibility (Benson 1982). It also grows on rocky mountain slopes.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Peniocereus greggii grows in desert flats and washes around 1200 - 1500 m or under creosote bushes in flats and washes at 300-1050 m, which further reduces visibility (Benson 1982).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

Comments: Forty two EO's. (Benson 1982).

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General Ecology

Peniocereus greggii is a slow growing plant with a large rhizome; roots typically range from 5-15 pounds, but have been known to grow as large as 87 pounds (Kearney and Peebles 1960). A majority of biomass is below ground, making the plant rather inconspicuous in the field when not flowering. This plant is found in association with nurse plants during early development. Nurse plants provide young plants with protection from the harsh desert envrionment.

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Peniocereus greggii blooms for 4 to 12 nights each season, with most flowers opening synchronously at dusk and closing at dawn (Raguso et al. 2003). This species is also known to self-incompatible, so pollination by an insect, usually a hawk moth or honeybee, is required for successful fruit maturation (Raguso et al. 2003). Fruits are red, fleshy and ripe during the fall migration season and are dispersed by birds (Suzan et al. 1994).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Peniocereus greggii

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Peniocereus greggii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Terry, M., Heil, K., Corral-Daz, R. & Goettsch, B.K.

Reviewer/s
Superina, M.

Contributor/s

Justification
Even though some populations have been extirpated, Peniocereus greggii occurs in a wide area and is widely scattered and very difficult to find, which confers the species some protection. Hence, it is listed as Least Concern. However, special attention must be given to some subpopulations, especially near urban areas such as Phoenix, El Paso and Tucson.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Peniocereus greggii occupies a limited range in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico including southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, western Texas, and Chihuahua, Zacatecas, and Sonora, Mexico. Abundance varies throughout the range, though the species is considered rare in New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas and is probably declining in Arizona. This cactus is threatened by urban development and is increasingly being collected as a landscaping plant and possibly a medicinal plant in New Mexico and Arizona. It may also be vulnerable to over-grazing.

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Population

Population
The species is widespread but very sparsely distributed. Abundance data of P. greggii var. greggii in Chihuahua and Zacatecas, Mexico are currently unavailable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Population trends for this species appear to be variable across its range. Several historical populations have been extirpated in New Mexico due to over-collection (Ferguson 1999). However it is not considered threatened in Arizona and apparently is more common than previously determined (T. Omar, pers. comm. December 2000). Population trends in Texas have not been determined because surveys have not been conducted recently. Population decline due to land conversion and development has been suggested.

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Threats

Major Threats
This species is threatened by development from roads, power lines, pipelines, and windmill farms. There is probably some illegal collection.
It has been reported that the populations of the pollinator hawk moth are decreasing by the use of pesticides (Nabhan pers. comm. 2000 in Paredes et al. 2000).
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Comments: Information about impacts of threats on this species varied across its range. First of all, the species is generally inconspicuous, so perceptions about rarity and threats should be closely examined. The two varieties, Peniocereus greggii var greggii and Peniocereus greggii var transmontanus, appear to be relatively rare. For example, Peniocereus greggii var greggii is considered rare in parts of New Mexico. Reportedly, Peneocereus greggii var greggii is likely to be threatened by illegal collection in New Mexico (Ferguson 1999). The commercial demand for this species, if it exists at all, is small. Historically, this plant was used for food and medicine by indigenous groups (Benson 1982). Currently, Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, also concluded that there is "very limited" collection of this species for the herbal industry (pers. com. M. McGuffin, December 2000). Rather, individuals dig the plant to use in landscaping private property and to add to personal collections. Thus, over the last several years, spotting this inconspicuous cactus has become more difficult (pers. comm. Ferguson, December 2000). This species is difficult to propagate from cuttings and slow growing from seed.

Peniocereus greggii var greggii is also threatened by development of suitable habitat (Ferguson 1999). Populations in the Rio Grande valley in southern New Mexico and adjacent Texas, have declined due to land development. Also, there seems to be a correlation between heavily grazed land and low numbers of plants. One reason may be that cattle and goats have been known to eat these plants down until they die. Grazing animals also have been observed to affect this species by damaging the shrubs that Peniocereus depend on for protection from the sun and support. More research on the impact of soil compaction caused by animals on this species should be conducted to determine whether it affects recruitment (pers. comm. Ferguson, December 2000).

According to the Desert Botanical Garden (Phoeniz, AZ), Peniocereus greggii (treated as a full species) may be only slightly threatened by the collection of wild specimens. However, the native plants in this region are generally threatened due to habitat loss and development (pers. comm. T. Omar, December 2000).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species occurs in protected areas over much of its range in southern Arizona and parts of northwest Mexico. It can be found in Organ Pipe National Monument, Saguaro National Park, and White Sands National Monument.

The species is legally protected in Mexico by the national list of species at risk of extinction, NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, where it is listed under category "subject to special protection" (Pr; SEMARNAT 2010). Peniocereus greggii var greggi is included on the Endangered Plants List in New Mexico, United States

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Production Methods: Cultivated, Wild-harvested

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Wikipedia

Peniocereus greggii

Peniocereus greggii is a cactus species native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (USA); and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Sonora, and Zacatecas (Mexico).[1] Common names include Arizona queen of the night, nightblooming cereus and Reina de la noche. The species name greggii honors Josiah Gregg (1806 – 1850), a merchant, explorer, naturalist, and author of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

Description[edit]

Peniocereus greggii with fruit in Sahuarita, Arizona.

This cactus has stems about 1/2-1 inch wide with 6-9 edges. Its flowers are white, up to 30 centimetres in diameter with a scent redolent of vanilla. The flowers open after sundown, closing and wasting after a few hours. By 9 am the next day they are gone. They usually bloom one night a year in June or July. In any given area, they all bloom at the same time. They look dead during the rest of the year. They have a large tuber that tastes a bit like a potato. They tend to be ubiquitous throughout the higher sonoran desert area around Tucson. See "A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert published by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, pg 197.

Tohono Chul in Tucson, Arizona [2] has the largest private collection of Sonoran Desert native Night-blooming Cereus - Peniocereus greggii. Each summer this botanical garden/museum hosts "Bloom Night," the one night each summer it is predicted the greatest number of cereus flowers will be in bloom, opening from 6pm until midnight to allow guests to stroll the grounds and view the flowers.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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