CPC Plant Profile: Davis' Green Pitaya
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Plant Profile

Davis' Green Pitaya (Echinocereus viridiflorus var. davisii)

The yellow-green flowers of this species are larger than the stems they arise from. Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: Federally Endangered
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • State: TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 146818
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/05/1993

This diminutive cactus was first discovered in Texas by Arthur Houghton in 1931. Echinocereus viridiflorus var. davisii can grow up to 3 cm in diameter, with stems that are attractively marked with regularly spaced purplish horizontal stripes (Dorrel and Johnson 1970). Yellow-green flowers grow up through densely packed gray-colored spines. Greenish-purple fruits dehisce along a suture on the capsule's side, revealing up to 100 tiny black seeds (Leek and Miller 1982). During a drought (which most often occurs in late fall and early spring), plants utilize water stored in the stem for metabolic processes, causing a 'shrinking' effect and making plants difficult to find.

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Updates
  • 09/09/2020
  • Propagation Research

Seeds are collected annually by Desert Botanical Garden as stipulated by the Texas Office of the USFWS. Germination is rapid and the percentages are high, but the survival rate of seedlings is low, even in cultivation, possibly due to the miniscule size of seedlings. Early germination techniques used were the Steve Brack screened boz method, where a wooden box covered with window screening houses pots of seeds, and is misted twice daily. This method ensures stability of the round seedlings in the soil, by reducing the size of water droplets reaching plantlets. (Desert Botanical Garden 2000)

  • 09/09/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Field collected seeds are needed from new plants in new locations in the pasture. The previously-collected seeds are stored both at Desert Botanical Garden and the National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado

  • 09/09/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Field collected seeds are needed from new plants in new locations in the pasture. The previously-collected seeds are stored both at Desert Botanical Garden and the National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado

  • 09/09/2020
  • Seed Collection

Field collected seeds are needed from new plants in new locations in the pasture. The previously-collected seeds are stored both at Desert Botanical Garden and the National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado

  • 09/09/2020
  • Seed Collection

Field collected seeds are needed from new plants in new locations in the pasture. The previously-collected seeds are stored both at Desert Botanical Garden and the National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Known only from Brewster County, Texas, where it occurs on an uncommon mineral outcrop that is home to many rare cacti and is a prime hunting ground for cactus collectors. There are 2 known sites, 1 of which has only a single individual.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Primary threats to this species include its restricted range and overcollecting (Weiniger 1979, USFWS 1984).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Numbers in remaining populations are unknown. All plants occur on one site located on a privately owned land. Reports indicate that several individuals exist, but these findings remain unverified.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Seeds are collected annually by Desert Botanical Garden as stipulated by the Texas Office of the USFWS. Germination is rapid and the percentages are high, but the survival rate of seedlings is low, even in cultivation, possibly due to the miniscule size of seedlings. Early germination techniques used were the Steve Brack screened boz method, where a wooden box covered with window screening houses pots of seeds, and is misted twice daily. This method ensures stability of the round seedlings in the soil, by reducing the size of water droplets reaching plantlets. (Desert Botanical Garden 2000)

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Management practices are not known for this species, but no cattle are observed grazing in the pasture where plants are located. Observations are made only for brief intervals twice annually.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Because this species has such a limited range, understanding its habitat requirements and identifying new sites are essential. Studies related to the pollination biology and soil microbial associations should also be examined.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Field collected seeds are needed from new plants in new locations in the pasture. The previously-collected seeds are stored both at Desert Botanical Garden and the National Seed Storage Lab in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Serious consideration should be given to the prospect of legally offering F2 or later generations of offspring for sale to those who would otherwise collect in the wild.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Echinocereus viridiflorus var. davisii
Authority (Houghton) W.T.Marshall
Family Cactaceae
CPC Number 1577
ITIS 195378
USDA ECVID
Common Names Davis' green pitaya | Davis' hedgehog cactus
Associated Scientific Names Echinocereus viridiflorus var. davisii | Echinocereus davisii | Echinocereus viridiflorus ssp. davisii
Distribution The majority of the limestone formation where this species occurs lies on privately owned land. Access to this site was historically allowed by the property owner. Since then, beginning approximatel
State Rank
State State Rank
Texas S1
Habitat

The single known population occurs on a specific limestone substrate in west Texas, in a semi-desert grassland (Godfrey et al. 1973, USFWS 1984). A large percentage of the soil is covered by Selaginella sp., but other associated plants include Opuntia leptocaulis, Escobaria hesteri, Escobaria varicolor, Larrea tridentata and Dasyliron leiophyllum (USFWS 1984).

Ecological Relationships

It is suspected that the Selaginella substrate where these plants are found is a main factor for survival of Echinocereus viridiflorus var. davisii in its early life stages.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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