Echinocereus fendleri 

Fendler’s Hedgehog Cactus - Echinocereus fendleri 
Ready Pay Gulch - East of Hillsboro, New Mexico, USA
March 7, 2015

On March 7, 2015 we found Fendler’s Hedgehog Cactus (photos here) on the ridge in Ready Pay Gulch.  Echinocereus fendleri tends to grow at higher elevations than species like the Fishhook.  

Cactus species can be variable in appearance, and for me, typing them to species can be difficult.  For instance, the E. fendleri, pictured below appears to be more elongated than the one above.  Some authorities recognize as many as eight varieties of this species.  The specimen in the photograph below was taken on the road to the Snake Mine, east of Hillsboro, on July 14 of last year.

Cactus have adapted to the harsh environment found in the deserts of the America’s by developing a number of interesting features.  We all know, for instance, that the surface of a cactus is waxy and hard.  But not until recently did I discover that it is thicker on the “sunny side” of the plant, increasing its protective value.  And the spines, we all know they are to be avoided but in some species they are thick enough to provide shading to the surface of the cactus.  

The most interesting feature of cacti, for me, is that they open their stoma at night so that oxygen and carbon dioxide can be exchanged.  Carbon dioxide is required for photosynthesis and oxygen is a by-product of the process.  The exchange of raw material occurs at night when there is less loss of water from the open stoma.  During the day, when photosynthesis occurs, the stoma are closed.

The range map from BONAP, right, shows that this species is native to our area.  In Mexico it is found in Chihuahua and Sonora.  This species was first described by Engelmann in 1849 as Cereus fendleri.  In 1860, Sencke redescribed it as Echinocereus fendleri.  There are two recognized subspecies, the nominate form and E. f. rectispinus (which has been described as E. rectispinus and E. hempelii, in the past).  It is also known as Pinkflower Hedgehog Cactus.

This species is listed in CITES Appendix II, its “trade (is) controlled to avoid use incompatible with species survival”.  

The type specimen (shown below) for this species was collected by Fendler on June 9, 1847 (or 1846?), in New Mexico.


Snake Mine Road - East of Hillsboro, New Mexico, USA
Immediately above and below - July 14, 2014

Hillsboro, NM May 2016
Immediately above and all below.


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© Robert Barnes 2018