Cereus eriophorus var. fragrans
|fragrant prickly-apple cactus, fragrant wooly cactus|
|(Small ex Britton & Rose) L.D. Benson|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Bok Tower Gardens
The conservation of Cereus eriophorus var. fragrans is fully sponsored.
Jennifer Possley contributed to this Plant Profile.
Harrisia fragrans is a columnar cactus endemic to south Florida. It may reach 3-5 m tall (reports vary), though it frequently has a sprawling, more horizontal growth form (Britton and Rose 1920, Benson 1982, USFWS 1988). The fragrant, showy, pink to white flowers reach 10 cm long and bloom nocturnally (Rae 1995). Fruits are orange-red and reach 5 cm in diameter.
Distribution & Occurrence
Harrisia fragrans can be found growing on dry sandy soil of coastal berms and early successional sand pine scrub (USFWS 1999, Coile 2000) and also on rockland hammock sites (IRC, personal communication). This species prefers partial shade (Rae 1994).
|In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that approximately 320 individuals exist in 11 small, disjunct sites in eastern St. Lucie County (these 11 sites were described as 3 sites, prior to habitat fragmentation).
The number of individuals in Monroe county is unknown.
Conservation, Ecology & Research
It is speculated that young H. fragrans plants may have increased survival rates when associated with a "nurse plant," which facilitates success of the cacti by providing shade and support (USFWS 1999).
Woodpeckers often peck holes in the stems, which may increase rot and stem death (USFWS 1999).
H. fragrans can colonize bare sand, and may benefit from periodic mild disturbance (USFWS 1988).
Life history traits found show that Harrisia fragrans prefers partial shade.
This species reproduces both sexually and vegetatively (Rae 1995).
Flowering occurs April-September, with peaks in May and September. Substantial numbers of fruit often remain on stems for 8 months out of the year. One fruit was counted as having over 700 seeds.
Major structural growth occurs July through September (Rae 1995).
Work by Rae in the 1980's and 1990's have revealed several population and life history traits: long-term demographic studies 1994a) showed a 41% decline in number of individuals, as well as a general failure to recruit. Additional surveys between 1993 and 1996 showed another 40% decline. Reasons for this decrease in fitness are unknown, but may stem from vegetational changes and increasing canopy cover (USFWS 1999).
Britton, N.L.; Rose, J.N. 1920. The Cactaceae: descriptions and illustrations of plants of the cactus family. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.
Coile, N.C. 2000. Notes on Florida's Regulated Plant Index (Rule 5B-40), Botany Contribution 38. Gainesville, Florida: Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry.
FNAI. 2000. Field Guide to the Rare Plants and Animals of Florida online. Florida Natural Areas Inventory.