Habitat and Ecology
The development of an adult plant from seed takes decades, but a much faster growth can be achieved with stems produced by branching when the apical meristem is disturbed (Del Castillo and Trujillo 1991).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
If more accurate information were available on the generation length and percentage reduction, it is possible that this species would qualify for listing in a more threatened category. Further research is needed on the use and trade of this species, on the effects of the over-exploitation on subpopulations and on the species generally. There is an urgent need for further research on 1) the rates of population decline due to over-harvesting, 2) the generation length and 3) demographic and age structure as a result of over exploitation.
The Mexican Authorities have taken steps to reduce the impacts of over-collection on the wild population. The species is protected by law, and the candy may only be sold commercially if it is from certified cultivated plants. There is also a commercial substitute available for making similar candy and this may help to reduce the pressure on the wild population.
In recent years the expansion of the city of Querétaro has resulted in the destruction of the Bajío tropical dry forest in areas where thousands of plants of this species occurred. There has been some mitigation but the damage is irreversible (Sánchez et al. 2011).
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). The sale of the candy is now prohibited unless provenance from non-wild sources can be proved. It is also listed on CITES Appendix II. The species is recorded from protected areas. Research is needed on the effects of the current over exploitation. Habitat protection and artificial propagation are needed to avoid the extinction of this species (Del Castillo and Trujillo 1991).