CPC Plant Profile: Pima Pineapple Cactus
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Plant Profile

Pima Pineapple Cactus (Coryphantha robustispina ssp. robustispina)

The sparsely vegetated habitat of the Pima pineapple cactus. This tiny cactus is difficult to find in the field, as it grows only 4 - 7 inches tall. Photo Credit: Lynda Pritchett-Kozak
Description
  • Global Rank: N/A
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • State: AZ, MX, SI
  • Nature Serve ID: 140337
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

Coryphantha scheeri v. robustispina is a small globular cactus that reaches 10-18 cm in height with distinctive, straw-colored central spines (ca 2 cm long on mature plants). Plants have prominent tubercules, the tip of each having an aeroele. Young aereoles are densely covered with wool, old ones are completely smooth. Older tubercules toward the bottom of plants can differentiate to form new plants. Pale yellow flowers bloom in early July and give way to juicy, green fruits containing large brown seeds (about 2mm). Coryphantha scheeri v. robustispina was first collected in 1856 by Schott in the Baboquivari Mountains in Sonora, Mexico. In 1856, it was published by Engelman as Mamillaria robustispina, based on the large seed size. Britton and Rose renamed it as Coryphantha robustispina in 1923, and in 1953, it was designated as a variety of Coryphantha mulenpfordtii, by Marshall. Finally, Benson (1969) split C. scheeri into 3 varieties, one of them being var. robustispina. Plants are designated Threatened under the Endangered Species Act (1990), and are designated as Forest Service Sensitive, and Highly Safeguarded by Arizona state law.

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Updates
  • 09/04/2020
  • Demographic Research

Permanent plots have been erected to study the demographic component of this species (Schmalzel and Dix 1998).

  • 09/04/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

The DBG has seeds and plants from five populations in southern Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden salvaged approximately 75 plants and clones from a proposed site in the Green Valley housing development. Available fruits and seeds were salvaged at the same time. Since 1993, the Garden has produced approximately 300 seeds in cultivation through controlled cross-pollination.

  • 09/04/2020
  • Living Collection

The DBG has seeds and plants from five populations in southern Arizona.

  • 09/04/2020
  • Reproductive Research

Since 1993, the Garden has produced approximately 300 seeds in cultivation through controlled cross-pollination.

  • 09/04/2020
  • Seed Collection

The DBG has seeds and plants from five populations in southern Arizona. Desert Botanical Garden salvaged approximately 75 plants and clones from a proposed site in the Green Valley housing development. Available fruits and seeds were salvaged at the same time. Since 1993, the Garden has produced approximately 300 seeds in cultivation through controlled cross-pollination.

  • 09/04/2020
  • Propagation Research

A germination test was conducted on field-collected seeds from the original collection, yielding a percentage of 35%. Tests were conducted in the greenhouse, with temperatures ranging from 70-100 F, using Steve Brack's 'box' method, whereby pots are placed in a plywood box covered with window screen and misted twice daily. Plants in greenhouse cultivation are repeatedly infested with spider mites, and must be grown outdoors with some protection from the west sun. Plants were translocated from the ground to pots during a construction project in May 2000. As of December 200, no casualties have been observed. The DBG has seeds and plants from five populations in southern Arizona.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Most sources estimate that there are few remaining populations. Many known sites apparently have few individuals, and few populations are protected. Total population is difficult to estimate, as plants are very sparsely distributed and difficult to locate in the field. The range has been delimited by relatively thorough survey, and is bounded by the Santa Rita mountains (east), the Baboquivari mountains (west), and Tucson (north) in Arizona; it extends south a short distance into Sonora, Mexico. Total range is approximately 70 km east-west by 80 km north-south, although there are large areas of unsuitable habitat within these boundaries. The plant is known to be declining; loss of habitat due to urban development is the primary threat. Losses of habitat due to road construction, agriculture, mining, and off-road vehicle use are also important threats, as is habitat degradation due to livestock grazing and non-native grass invasion. Illegal collection of plants also occurs.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Urban development is the primary threat, as the majority of C. scheeri v. robustispina. Additional impacts include road construction, agriculture, mining, off-road vehicle use, grazing, and introduction of non-native grasses (USFWS 1981, Mills 1991, Toll

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Approximately 21 populations are known (USFWS 1981).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Desert Botanical Garden salvaged approximately 75 plants and clones from a proposed site in the Green Valley housing development. Available fruits and seeds were salvaged at the same time. Since 1993, the Garden has produced approximately 300 seeds in cultivation through controlled cross-pollination. Permanent plots have been erected to study the demographic component of this species (Schmalzel and Dix 1998).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

A formal management plan has not been designed.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Studies into the aspects of this species' biology and ecology would be useful in conservation efforts.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

A germination test was conducted on field-collected seeds from the original collection, yielding a percentage of 35%. Tests were conducted in the greenhouse, with temperatures ranging from 70-100 F, using Steve Brack's 'box' method, whereby pots are placed in a plywood box covered with window screen and misted twice daily. Plants in greenhouse cultivation are repeatedly infested with spider mites, and must be grown outdoors with some protection from the west sun. Plants were translocated from the ground to pots during a construction project in May 2000. As of December 200, no casualties have been observed. The DBG has seeds and plants from five populations in southern Arizona.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Coryphantha robustispina ssp. robustispina
Authority (A. Schott ex Engelm.) Britton & Rose
Family Cactaceae
CPC Number 1087
ITIS 912635
USDA COROR
Common Names Pima pineapple cactus | Sheer's strong-spined cory cactus | longtubercle beehive cactus
Associated Scientific Names Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina | Coryphantha robustispina ssp. robustispina | Cactus robustispinus | Mammillaria robustispina | Coryphantha muehlenpfordtii ssp. robustispina | Coryphantha muehlenpfordtii var. robustispina
Distribution This species is known from southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico (USFWS 1981).
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S2
Mexico *FR85
Sonora S1T1
Habitat

Plants are found on alluvial hillsides in rocky, sandy soils in southeastern Arizona (Roller 1996). The habitat is primarily desert grassland at elevations ranging from 2,300 ft. to 5,000 ft (Brown and Lowe 1980, USFWS 1981, Roller 1996).

Ecological Relationships

Unknown

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Chimney bees Diadasia rinconis Confirmed Pollinator Link
Honey bees European honey bees Floral Visitor Link
Native bees Floral Visitor Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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