Turbinicarpus subterraneus spp. booleanus is a small, globular cactus with a tuber-like root, connected to the stem by a slender, underground neck (3) (4). Only around a third of the main stem body grows above ground (3). The stem is covered with green tubercles, which bear elliptical areoles at their tips. The areoles in turn bear 18 to 20 need-like ‘radial’ spines, which are glassy-white in colour with brown to reddish tips, and up to 0.6 centimetres in length, and also bear two central spines, which measure around 1.2 to 1.8 centimetres in length, are cylindrical with tapering ends, and are almost entirely brown to black in colour (3) (4). Seedlings are characterised by their elongated growth form, and only later develop a globular stem above the slender subterranean neck (4).
Turbinicarpus subterraneus ssp. booleanus is sometimes considered a full species, Turbinicarpus booleanus, rather than a subspecies of Turbinicarpus subterraneus (3).
- Turbinicarpus booleanus.
- Diameter: up to 5.5 cm (2) (3)
Measuring around two centimetres in diameter, the flowers of Turbinicarpus subterraneus ssp. booleanus are borne at the top of the stem, and are magenta in colour, with yellow anthers. The fruits are dark green to purple, and open along a longitudinal slit from which the small black seeds are released (3) (4).
This cactus is endemic to the Mexican state of Nuevo León, where it is found in only two, relatively close locations (3) (4).
Turbinicarpus subterraneus ssp. booleanus inhabits bare, exposed gypsum slopes in semi-desert, at elevations of around 1,860 metres (1) (3).
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).
This cactus is known from an area of just 5 square kilometres, and its population is estimated at fewer than 1,000 plants. The main threat to Turbinicarpus subterraneus ssp. booleanus is illegal collecting, a practice which is decreasing the number of individuals in the wild (1).
Turbinicarpus subterraneus ssp. booleanus is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which includes species threatened with extinction, which are or may be affected by trade. Trade in this cactus should be subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to further endanger its survival, and must only be authorized in exceptional circumstances (3).
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To find out more about Turbinicarpus species see:
- Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen.
- In cacti, the felted or woolly, cushion-like structures from which spines grow, flowers develop and new stems arise.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- In plants, a thickened stem or root that acts as an underground storage organ.
- In cacti, a conical or angular swelling upon the stem.
IUCN Red List (August, 2010)
Zachar, M. (2004) The Genus Turbinicarpus. Vydavatel’stvo Igor Drab & Spolocnost’ Cactaceae etc., Bratislava.
Hinton, G.S. (1996) Turbinicarpus booleanus (Cactaceae), a new species from Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Phytologia, 80(1): 62-66.
CITES (August, 2010)
Lüthy, J.M. (2001) The Cacti of CITES Appendix I. Bundesamt für Veterinärwesen, Bern.