Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii (Sneed's pincushion cactus)

Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii (Sneed's pincushion cactus)

Photograph by Robert Sivinski (2004)
Scientific Name with Author
Escobaria sneedii Britton & Rose var. sneedii
Common Name
Sneed's pincushion cactus
Rare Plant Conservation Scorecard Summary
Overall Conservation Status Documented Threats Actions Needed

Residential and commercial development, Collection

genetic/taxonomic studies

County Map
Stems growing in clumps, or commonly branched to form small dense clusters, the individual stems mostly 1-2 cm thick and to 10 cm tall; tubercles on mature stems with upper surface grooved; spines slender, spreading to erect in any one areole, mostly about 2-5 mm long, but with about 15 more or less central, stouter spines to about 10 mm long, the spines typically white, but varying to yellowish, pinkish or pale brownish, often darker at tip, fading to gray; flowers not opening widely, to 1.5 cm wide (usually smaller); tepals pale yellowish to pinkish or nearly white, usually with midribs darker; stigmas white to pink; fruit elongate, 1-1.5 cm long, green to somewhat reddish; seeds about 0.8 mm long, kidney-shaped, pitted, brown, with hilum lateral. Flowers in April.
Similar Species
Escobaria tuberculosa usually has larger stems and larger, more richly colored flowers that open widely, fruits that ripen bright red, and seeds that are smaller and rounder. The variously oriented spines of variety sneedii versus the appressed spines of variety leei distinguish these two varieties. Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii is smaller and more densely clustered than E. guadalupensis, E. organensis, E. sandbergii, E. villardii, E. orcuttii, and E. albicolumnaria, which are other members of the Escobaria sneedii Complex.
New Mexico, Dona Ana County; Texas, El Paso County.
Primarily cracks in limestone in areas of broken terrain and steep slopes usually in Chihuahuan desert scrub.
In Flora of North America, Volume 4 (2003), all taxa in the Escobaria sneedii Complex, which includes Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii, 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. sneedii var. sneedii to be a distinct entity. In discussions at the 2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council Meeting, Council members concluded that E. sneedii var. sneedii 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. sneedii var. sneedii 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 and this variation continues to present difficult taxonomic problems. For example, plants from the Guadalupe Mountains that intergrade between E. sneedii var. leei and E. guadalupensis are morphologically indistinguishable from E. sneedii var. sneedii of the Franklin Mountains (Baker and Johnson 2000).

The presence of this variety in the limestone ranges of adjacent Chihuahua needs to be determined.

Conservation Considerations
This species is locally common within its area of distribution. The southern portion of the Franklin Mountains population has been impacted by urban development of El Paso. Private and commercial collecting has impacted this species. It is now propagated commercially on a large scale and is readily available to the public.
Important Literature

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

*Benson, L. 1982. The cacti of the United States and Canada. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

*Britton N.L. and J.N. Rose. 1923. The Cactaceae IV. Carnegie Institution, Washington D.C.

*Weniger, D. 1970. Cacti of the Southwest. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Schulz, E.D. and R. Runyon. 1930. Texas cacti. Texas Academy of Science, San Antonio.

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

Baker, M.A. and R.A. Johnson. 2000. Morphometric analysis of Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii, E. sneedii var. leei, and E. guadalupensis (Cactaceae). Systematic Botany 25(4):577-587.

Information Compiled By
David J. Ferguson 1998; last updated 2006

For distribution maps and more information, visit Natural Heritage New Mexico