Pediocactus despainii

Common Names:
San Rafael Cactus
Welsh & Goodrich
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Rita Dodge
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Red Butte Garden and Arboretum

The conservation of Pediocactus despainii is fully sponsored.
Rita Dodge contributed to this Plant Profile.


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 Utahs 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


Conservation, Ecology & Research