Peniocereus striatus (Brandegee) Buxb. (Cactaceae) is an endemic Sonoran Desert cactus that reaches its northern range limit in southwestern Arizona. One U.S. population occupies a small area of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near the U.S./Mexico international boundary, which has been monitored since 1939. An extensive survey conducted in 2002, covering 177 ha, resulted in the discovery of 88 new plants, in addition to the relocation of 57 plants found in previous surveys. Despite potential increases in population size and spatial distribution, mean plant height and number of basal stems has not significantly changed in recent years. Bud scars revealed that a majority of the population was sexually mature. Peniocereus striatus occurrence increased with decreasing slope, spanned every slope aspect, and was highest on rocky soils, but was noticeably low on west and northwest slopes and areas where severe land degradation had previously occurred. Over half of P. striatus plants were nursed by shrubs and subshrubs, while 40% occurred under leguminous trees. A severe frost in January 2002 top-killed 19% of the population, with the greatest damage in drainage bottoms. However, long-term (1944–2002) climate records show that there has been an overall increase in the number of frost free days in the region, which, coupled with land use change, has implications for the future health of this population.
Additional publication details
Plant population and habitat characteristics of the endemic Sonoran Desert cactus Peniocereus striatus in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona