Cactus (Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis)

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Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis in flower
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Cactus fact file

Cactus description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumTracheophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderCaryophyllales
FamilyCactaceae
GenusPseudoacanthocereus (1)

This scrambling, low-lying cactus is a fairly inconspicuous member of the family (2). The dark green, or greyish stems are either erect or growing along the ground; they have 2 - 6 pronounced ribs (2). The stem is marked with hairy white cushion-like areoles and short spines that may be up to 50 mm in length (2). Large, white flowers are provided with a funnel shaped flower-tube (2). The outer sections of the flower are a dull pink whilst the petals are spreading and white in colour (2). Rounded fruits develop in season; these ripen from green to yellow before falling to the ground, and give off a pineapple scent (2).

Size
Stem diameter: 1.5 - 4.5 cm (2)
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Cactus biology

Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis is a nocturnally flowering cactus (2), whose sweetly scented, long-tubed flowers are probably visited by hawkmoths (4). In former times, the fruits may have been distributed by the peccary (4).

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Cactus range

Endemic to Eastern Brazil, Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis is found in the regions of northeast Minas Gerais and north and central Bahia, to the east of the Chapada Diamantina crestline (1).

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Cactus habitat

This cactus is associated with the dry-thorn forests of eastern Brazil, which is known as the caatinga-agreste zone (2).

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Cactus status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU - C1+2a(i)) on the IUCN Red List 2002 (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Cactus threats

Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to the survival of this species (1). The caatinga forests in this area have been relentlessly cleared over the centuries for timber extraction and to make way for agriculture (2). As a result, Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis populations are undergoing a decline and their range is becoming increasingly fragmented (2).

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Cactus conservation

This species is protected within the 'Lagoa de Pedra do Cavalo' area of Bahia, but there are only a small number of limited protected sites within the vast caatinga region (2). It is also listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which stipulates that a permit is required for trade in wild-taken plants of this species (2). Ultimately however, it is vital that regular monitoring and protection of existing populations is established in order to conserve this cactus (2).

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Authentication

Authenticated (20/3/03) by Dr Nigel Taylor, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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Glossary

Areoles
In cacti, the felted or woolly, cushion-like structures from which spines grow, flowers develop and new stems arise.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Nocturnal
Active at night.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2003) www.redlist.org
  2. Taylor, N.P. & Zappi, D.C. (in press) Cacti of Eastern Brazil. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  3. CITES (February, 2003) www.cites.org
  4. Taylor, N. (March, 2003) Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis in flower  
Pseudoacanthocereus brasiliensis in flower

© Nigel P. Taylor / Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 332 5000
Fax: +44 (0) 208 332 5197
info@kew.org
http://www.rbgkew.org.uk

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