Escobaria orcuttii Bödecker


Family: Cactaceae

Synonyms: Escobaria orcuttii Bödecker var. macraxima Castetter, Pierce & Schwerin; Escobaria orcuttii var. koengii Castetter, Pierce & Schwerin; Coryphantha strobiliformis (Poselg.) Moran var. durispina (Quehl) L. Benson; Coryphantha strobiliformis (Poselg.) Moran var. orcuttii (Bödecker) L. Benson

Description: Escobaria orcuttii is distinguished by the relatively even and short length of the central spines, which seem to grade into the radial spines of similar length. This gives the plants something of a "groomed" appearance.

Distribution: Escobaria orcuttii occurs strictly on limestone west of the Rio Grande from the Santa Eulalia Mountains, Chihuahua to the vicinities of Samalayuca and Juarez, Chihuahua and into southwestern New Mexico. In New Mexico, populations occur in the Peloncillo Mountains (Higalgo County, also Cochise County, Arizona), Florida Mountains (Luna County), Big Hatchet Mountains (Hidalgo County), and possibly in the Little Hatchet Mountains (Grant and Hidalgo counties) and Animas Mountains (Hidalgo County). The range is not well documented in Mexico, but the taxon likely occurs on many limestone outcrops near the west edge of the Chihuahuan Desert in northern Chihuahua. This distribution seems quite large, but the plant is restricted to limestone outcrops, and at any given location has only been found in small areas with relatively few individuals.

Plants Seen or Cited: The variety orcuttii was described from the Peloncillo Mountains. The variety macraxina was described from the Big Hatchet Mountains. I can find no consistent difference between it and type locality material, cited differences do not hold true, and I do not believe that any recognition is warranted. The variety koenigii was described from the Florida Mountains, and differs only slightly from the type, but tends to have shorter rounder stems on average, more consistently pure white spines which are more slender on average.

Remarks: Escobaria orcuttii is rare in New Mexico and populations are negatively impacted by the introduced population of Ibex in the Florida Mountains. However, due to the distribution of this species, and the subsuming of the varieties koengii and macraxina the council has recommended not to include this taxon.

Information Compiled By: David Ferguson