CPC Plant Profile: Star Cactus
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Plant Profile

Star Cactus (Astrophytum asterias)

Photo Credit: Dick McEuen
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • State: TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 132943
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 04/04/1991

small, spineless cacti

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Updates
Center for Plant Conservation
  • 12/02/2021
  • Reintroduction

In this study Sandy Birnbaum & Jackie Poole of Texas Parks and wildlife undertook a pilot reintroduction in order to test the feasibility of reintroducing A. asterias. The pilot site was established within formerly occupied habitat. Seeds and seedlings were used as propagules for the pilot reintroduction. Four treatments were established: seeds planted in the spring; seedlings planted in the spring; seeds planted in the fall; seedlings planted in the fall. Each treatment consisted of 120 individuals. Overall less than 4% of the planted seeds produced seedlings. Seedling survivorship of the spring and fall treatments was 55% and 72.5%, respectively. Mortality of seedlings was due to desiccation, herbivory, infestation by weevils, burying by Mexican ground squirrel, and other miscellaneous causes.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Currently known from two locations, one in extreme south Texas, and the other in adjacent Tamaulipas, Mexico. Extirpated in much of its historic range, including Nueva Leon, Mexico. A total of about 2000 plants are thought to remain in the wild. The species continues to be threatened by cactus collectors (despite successful commercial propagation techniques) and by habitat alteration/destruction due to severe overgrazing, brush eradication, and conversion to cropland.

  • 01/01/2010

greatest threat is collection exotics herbicides brush clearing urbanization

  • 01/01/2010

2000 individuals in 1 unprotected population; 1 historic population 1 population in Starr County, TX of ca. 2000 plants and 1 population in Tamaulipas, Mexico of ca. 100 plants

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Astrophytum asterias
Authority (Zucc.) Lem.
Family Cactaceae
CPC Number 1543
ITIS 192203
USDA ASAS6
Common Names Sea Urchin Cactus | Star Cactus | Biznaga-algononcillo de estrella | sanddollar
Associated Scientific Names Astrophytum asterias | Echinocactus asterias | Astrophytum asterias var. magnipunctatum | Astrophytum asterias var. multipunctatum | Astrophytum asterias var. nudicarpa | Astrophytum asterias var. nudum | Astrophytum asterias var. pubescente | Astrophytum asterias var. roseiflorum | Astrophytum asterias var. seminudum | Echinocactus asterias var. nudus
Distribution NA
State Rank
State State Rank
Texas S1S2
Habitat

gravelly loam in Tamaulipan thorn scrub occurs on gentle slopes and flats in grasslands or shrublands on the Rio Grande Plains or Tamaulipan thorn scrub the known Texas site occurs within a drainage

Ecological Relationships

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Bees
Chimney bees Diadasia rinconis Confirmed Pollinator Link
Mining bees Macrotera lobata Confirmed Pollinator Link
Flies
Bee flies Anthrax irroratus Confirmed Pollinator Link
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Texas Reinforcement 2007
The Nature Conservancy Texas Reintroduction 2010

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