CPC Plant Profile: Arizona Hedgehog Cactus
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Plant Profile

Arizona Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus coccineus var. arizonicus)

Flowers of Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: T2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • State: AZ
  • Nature Serve ID: 156832
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/09/1992

The Arizona hedgehog is a multi-stemmed columnar cactus up to 40 cm tall, with 10 tuberculate ribs. There can be up to fifty stems in a single clump, but it is more common to find clumps with 5-10 stems. Along the ribs, at growing points called areoles, clusters of 1-3 gray or pinkish central spines, with the longest spine curving down. The flowers are brilliant red, with yellow anthers and a green stigma. The brilliant red flower color is one of the characters distinguishing Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus from other varieties of Echinocereus triglochidiatus. Typical Arizona hedgehog cacti differ from E. t. melanacanthus in that the stems are larger, more robust, and notably fewer in number. Intergradation between E.t. var arizonicus, and E.t. var. neomexicanus occurs along the southeastern limits of its range.

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Updates
Center for Plant Conservation
  • 10/07/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In accordance with the CPC and USFS Rare Plant Seed Banking Agreement, in July 2017, Steve Blackwell of Desert Botanic Garden (DBG) and Kathy Robertson (USFWS) collected over 1557 seeds from 3 maternal plants at Pinto Creek.  In June 2018, Steve Blackwell, Raul Puente and other DBG staff collected over 13,000 seeds from 12 mother plants from the Pinto Creek population. Volunteers at DBG processed seeds and accessioned into the DBG’s Living Collections database. The seeds were divided and stored between the Desert Botanic Garden and the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, CO. 

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 10/07/2021
  • Seed Collection

In July 2017, Steve Blackwell of Desert Botanic Garden (DBG) and Kathy Robertson (USFWS) conducted an initial collection of Echinocereus arizonicus (also known as Echinocereus coccineus var. arizonicusseeds from Pinto Creek in anticipation of possible population damage caused by the demolition and construction of a bridge in Tonto National Forest. The collection resulted in over 1557 seeds from 3 maternal plants.  In June 2018, Steve Blackwell, Raul Puente and other DBG staff collected over 13,000 seeds from 12 mother plants from the Pinto Creek population. Volunteers at DBG processed seeds and accessioned into the DBG’s Living Collections database.  

  • 09/09/2020
  • Genetic Research

As of 2012, research staff at the Desert Botanical Garden are engaging in DNA analysis for taxonomic studies using DNA extracted from cactus spines.

  • 09/09/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Seeds have been collected for propagation by the USDA Forest Service. These are held and have been grown at the Boyce-Thompson Arboretum. The source of these seeds and the fate of the plants grown from them is unknown.

  • 09/09/2020
  • Seed Collection

Seeds have been collected for propagation by the USDA Forest Service. These are held and have been grown at the Boyce-Thompson Arbopretum. The source of these seeds and the fate of the plants grown from them is unknown.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Endemic to a mountainous area in south-central Arizona. Overcollection is a major threat, as is the potential of habitat loss due to open-pit mining.

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

The immediate threat to this taxon is copper mining. A large copper mining company is in the final stages of permitting and is planning to begin mining soon. Because the process of mining copper requires large amounts of water, dredging of the nearby Pi

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

7 known populations

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

Seeds have been collected for propagation by the USDA Forest Service. These are held and have been grown at the Boyce-Thompson Arbopretum. The source of these seeds and the fate of the plants grown from them is unknown. As of 2012, research staff at the Desert Botanical Garden are engaging in DNA analysis for taxonomic studies using DNA extracted from cactus spines.

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

Most plants occur on lands administered by the USDA Forest Service, Tonto National Forest, Globe Ranger District, including plants within the Superstition Wilderness area. Some plants also occur on private property.

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

Complete chormosomal studies are needed. Zimmerman (1989) recommended a morphological study of Echinocereus populations on a transect from the type locality up into the pinal Mountains to determine of var. arizonicus is conspecific with the ordinary E. coccineus that grows on Pinal Peak. E. Anderson does not recognize E. triglochidiatus v. arizonicus in his book, the Cactus Family (2000). Additional Surveys are needed, especially in the eastern Superstition Mountains. If identification is questionalbe, photos and habitat notes should be brought in for examination by taxonomic specialists.

Kathy Rice, Steven Blackwell
  • 01/01/2010

Additional seed collections should be made, even though the plants may be of hybrid origin. Plants should be grown from seeds for chromosome and detailed morphological studies.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Echinocereus coccineus var. arizonicus
Authority (Rose ex Orcutt) L. Benson
Family Cactaceae
CPC Number 1574
ITIS 527812
USDA ECCOA
Common Names Arizona Hedgehog Cactus | Arizona Hedgehog
Associated Scientific Names Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. arizonicus | Echinocereus coccineus var. arizonicus | Echinocereus coccineus | Echinocereus arizonicus
Distribution Central Arizona, Pinal and Gila Counties. Pinal, Dripping springs, Superstition And Mescal Mountains. Highlands between Globe and Superior. Devils Chasm has dacite substrate (Queen Creek), Gila/Pin
State Rank
State State Rank
Arizona S2
Habitat

Plants are found on the rocky slopes of granitic canyons at elevations of 3,500 to 5,400 ft, and are endemic to chapparal habitats in central Arizona. They also grow on slopes in Arizona desert grassland, in or near the Superstition Mountains, an area with a high proportionate incidence of endemic plant species. Interior Chaparral and Madrean evergreen Woodland; also into desert grassland. Often with the following associated species: Quercus tufbinella, Quercus emoryi, Arctostaphyllos pungens, Cercocarpus montanus, Nolina Microcarpa, Dasyliron wheeleri, Agave chrysantha, Muhlenbergia emersleyi, Pinus monophylla, Juniperus erythrocarpa and Rhus trilobata.

Ecological Relationships

Investigation is needed into the taxon's susceptibility to fire and whether fire suppression and livestock grazing have contributed to a conversion of a grassland to a shrubbier habitat.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting
U.S. Forest Service Arizona Reinforcement 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Arizona Reinforcement 2016

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