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Escobaria sandbergii
(Sandberg pincushion cactus, San Andres pincushion cactus)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]

Family: Cactaceae

Scientific Name: Escobaria sandbergii Castetter, Pierce & Schwerin

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Sandberg pincushion cactus, San Andres pincushion cactus

R-E-D Code: 2-1-3

Description: Stems solitary, few in a clump, or commonly branched to form small dense clusters of 20 or more stems, the individual stems mostly 2-4 cm thick, to 15 cm tall; tubercles on mature stems with upper surface grooved; spines about 20-60 per areole, spreading, typically whitish, often darker at tip, fading to gray, about 70 percent are slender and about 1 cm long, the remainder thicker, often darker and to 2.5 cm long; flowers not opening widely, to 2 cm wide (usually smaller); tepals pale yellowish to pinkish or nearly white, usually with midribs darker, stigmas white to pink; fruits elongate, 1.5-2 cm long, green to somewhat reddish; seeds about 1 mm long, kidney-shaped, pitted, brown, with hilum lateral. Flowers April and May.

Similar Species: Escobaria tuberculosa usually has more richly colored flowers that open widely, fruits that ripen bright red, and seeds that are smaller and rounder. Escobaria sandbergii is larger and usually less densely clustering than E. sneedii var. sneedii or E. sneedii var. leei. It has longer cental spines than E. orcuttii and more whitish spines than E. organensis or E. villardii.

Distribution: New Mexico, Dona Ana and Sierra counties, San Andres Mountains and Fra Cristobal Range.

Habitat: Rocky, igneous and limestone soils in Chihuahuan desert scrub and open oak and piñon-juniper woodland in mountainous terrain; 1,300-2,250 m (4,200-7,400 ft).

Remarks: In Flora of North America, Volume 4 (2003), all taxa in the Escobaria sneedii Complex, which includes Escobaria sandbergii, have been submerged into a single highly variable species, Coryphantha sneedii, without recognition of subspecific taxa. The NMRPTC notes the subjectivity involved in taxonomic decisions within this complex and will continue to consider E. sandbergii to be a distinct entity. In discussions at the 2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council Meeting, Council members concluded that E. sandbergii represents a population of plants that is geographically defined and sufficiently distinct from other closely related populations that it deserves taxonomic recognition. Although the population of E. sandbergii is distinct as a whole, it may be difficult to assign some plants in the population to a specific taxon without the aid of geographic information.

The locality on the holotype specimen is given as, "At Rope Springs, west slope of the San Andres Mts; Sierra County." There is no Rope Springs in Sierra County; the actual location is likely Ropes Spring in Doña Ana County.

Conservation Considerations: This species is common in its area of distribution. There are no known threats to populations at this time.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

*Castetter, E.F., P. Pierce and K.H. Schwerin. 1975. Reassessment of the genus Escobaria. Cactus and Succulent Journal (U.S.) 47(2):60-70.

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003. Flora of North America, volume 4. Oxford University Press, New York.

Information Compiled By: David J. Ferguson, 1998; last updated 2007

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Escobaria sandbergiiEscobaria sandbergii...S2

Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council