The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
The conservation of Sclerocactus wetlandicus is fully sponsored.
Wendy Yates, Katie Plumb contributed to this Plant Profile.
S. wetlandicus is a barrel-shaped cactus that is endemic to the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah. Due to its location, it is threatened primarily by oil and gas development. This small cactus averages anywhere from 1.5-7 inches, though larger specimens have been observed. It generally has 6-14 white-gray radial spines and 3 central spines, which are longer than the radial spines. The cactus has gorgeous funnel-shaped flowers that vary from light pink to fuchsia with yellow stamens reaching up to 2 inches long. The fruit is short, barrel-shaped, and red or reddish grey when ripe (USFWS 2010).
Though morphologically similar to S. glaucus and S. brevispinus, it has been determined that all three are distinct species. The US Fish and Wildlife Service finalized this distinction in 2009. S. wetlandicus is typically larger than S. brevispinus, and has longer spines, however these two species do hybridize where their ranges overlap (Natureserve 2013, USFWS 2012).
Distribution & Occurrence
Plants are generally found on coarse soils derived from cobble and gravel river terrace deposits, or on rocky mesa slopes from 4,400 to 6,200 feet. Associated desert shrubland vegetation includes shadscale, black sagebrush, and galleta grass (USFWS 2012).
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Parasitism by the cactus-borer beetle (Moneilema semipunctatum) is a significant but localized source of mortality to all Sclerocactus species on the Colorado Plateau, especially in larger, mature, reproducing individuals Additional studies are needed to determine the long-term, population-level effects of the cactus-borer beetle to S. wetlandicus (USFWS 2010).
Livestock grazing and trampling
Drought and climate change
Herbicides and pesticides
Inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms
RBG is also storing seeds collected during range-wide monitoring, and has a few salvaged plants in its care, from which they have collected seed that will be stored for germination testing and other research needs.
FWS has developed a range-wide monitoring plan, and is supporting research on the effects of development on the cactus.
Comprehensive surveys throughout the species range
Range map delineating S. wetlandicus in relation to S. brevispinus
Establish formal land management designations
Install livestock exclosures
Monitor cactus-borer beetle (Moneilema semipunctatum)
infestations, and study the relationship of episodic infestations with drought and other environmental factors.
Monitor changes in invasive species prevalence and impacts on Uinta Basin hookless cactus. Additionally, continue to explore approaches to minimize the risk posed by invasives and associated remediation actions.
Encourage investigations that project S. wetlandicus vulnerability and response to climate change.