As Seen on CPC’s Rare Plant Academy: Florida’s Key Tree Cacti (Pilosocereus robinii and Pilosocereus millspaughii): Charismatic Megaflora at the Forefront of Sea Level Rise
Dense stands of columnar ‘tree cacti’ similar to those in the Greater Antilles were once found in the Florida Keys, but harvesting, habitat loss, damage from mammals, climate change, and sea level rise led to a population crash that landed the cactus on the US endangered species list in 1984. In this Rare Plant Academy video recorded at the 2022 CPC National Meeting, Jennifer Possley presents the efforts of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) to conserve the Key tree cacti of the Florida keys. Since the mid-2000s, the conservation team at FTBG has worked hard to recover, restore, and secure ex situ material of these populations. Their work has included the establishment of a Key Tree Cactus Preserve; annual, range-wide population monitoring; in situ ecological studies; an ex situ salinity study; development of horticultural methods; seed banking; plant rescues; genetic research; and several experimental reintroductions to relatively higher-elevation sites throughout the species’ natural range.