Pima Pineapple Cactus
Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina
The Pima pineapple cactus is a round plant, measuring four to eighteen inches tall and three to seven inches wide. The spines are in clusters, with one central hooked spine surrounded by several smaller, straight spines.1 The cactus can be a single entity or may be found in clusters. Silky yellow flowers appear in July with the onset of the monsoon season. The fruit is oval, green and sweet.1 The Pima pineapple cactus is sparsely distributed with densities lower than one plant per four acres.2
The cactus grows in semidesert grassland and in Sonoran desert scrub between an elevation of 2,300 and 5,000 feet.2 It often occurs in open areas on flat ridge tops.1
The cactus is found in southeast Arizona in Santa Cruz and Pima counties, and in north central Sonora. In Arizona, the majority of the cactus' range is in Pima County.2
The Pima pineapple cactus is listed as an endangered species. It is also protected by the Arizona Native Plant Law, and as a Forest Service Sensitive Species.3 It is protected from internationanl trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Status in Pima County:
The majority of the cactus' range in Arizona falls in Pima County. Threats to this species include loss of habitat due to urban development, off-road vehicle use, road construction, livestock grazing, and agriculture and mining.1 Nonnative grasses alter the habitat which prevents establishment of the cactus.2 Illegal collecting also posses a threat to this species. Efforts have been made within Pima County to control threats to the cactus. Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge had a prescribed burn around the cactus to control nonnative grass species.2 After a population of Pima pineapple cactus was found at the Pima County Motorsports Park near Tucson, Pima County Parks and Recreation fenced the cacti, leaving room for the known population and for population expansion.
In June 2002, the Pima County Board of Supervisors set aside 590 acres as a mitigation bank for the Pima pineapple cactus.
1. US Fish and Wildlife. 1998. Threatened and Endangered Species of Arizona. Arizona Ecological Service Field Office, Phoenix, AZ. pp 27-28.
2. US Game and Fish. 1994. Coryphantha scheeri var. robustispina. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, AZ Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ.
3 . US Fish and Wildlife. 1992. Handbook of Arizona's Endangered, Threatened, and Candidate Plants. Phoenix, Az. pp 23 robustispina. Unpublished abstract compiled and edited by the Heritage Data Management System, AZ Game and Fish Department, Phoenix, AZ.
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