ACANTHOCEREUS

ACANTHOCEREUSAutor: (Engelmann ex Berger) Britton & Rose

• ETYMOLOGY
“Spiny wax candle” referring to the spiny nature of the genus.
• DESCRIPTION
A genus of shrubby plants with branched stems, bent or climbing, forming impenetrable thickets. Stems are three or four angled (sometimes five), segmented or not, often with wavy ribs. They are mostly dimorphic (instead of monomorphic, young and mature plants are identical in Peniocereus). Short, strongly aciculate spines.
Flowers nocturnal, usually self-sterile, funnel-shaped, white, fragrant, with a long floral tube, robust and erect, pollinated by bats (Leptonycteris curasoae) and Sphingidae (Manduca rustica). Fruits fleshy, scaly and spiny, variable in shape, colour and spines, edible. Large seeds, papillose, shiny, elongated and striate, black or brown. Seed dispersal provided by bats and in some regions, by tapirs (Tapirus terrestris and T. bairdii).
• HABITAT
The genus Acanthocereus grows in dry tropical forest, among shrubs, also in rocky or sandy areas, cliffs, near the coast, near mangrove (Costa Rica), and is able to form large populations, from sea level up to 1200 m in altitude. A.tetragonus is considered an invasive plant in New Caledonia and in Hawai, where sometimes it forms impenetrable thickets.
• DISTRIBUTION
Caribbean islands, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica (Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón), Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala (Baja Verapaz, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Escuintla, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Jutiapa, Petén, Santa Rosa, Zacapa), Honduras, Mexico (Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Veracruz, Yucatán), Nicaragua, Panama, USA (Florida), Venezuela.

Currently 18 species are recognised in this work (in brackets, taxa included before within
Peniocereus (P.), subgenus Pseudoacanthocereus, and transferred within Acanthocereus):
– Acanthocereus baxaniensis (Karw. ex Pfeiffer) Borg 1937
– Acanthocereus (P.) castellae* (Sánchez-Mej.) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus chiapensis* Bravo 1972
– Acanthocereus colombianus Britton & Rose 1920
– Acanthocereus (P.) cuixmalensis* (Sánchez-Mej.) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus (P.) fosterianus* (Cutak) J.Lodé 2013 (= P. nizandensis)
– Acanthocereus (P.) hirschtianus* (K.Schum.) J.Lodé 2013 (= P. guatemalensis)
– Acanthocereus horridus* Britton & Rose 1920
– Acanthocereus (P.) macdougallii* (Cutak) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus (P.) maculatus* Weing. ex Bravo 1933
– Acanthocereus (P.) marnierianus* (Backeb.) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus (P.) oaxacensis* (Britton & Rose) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus occidentalis* Britton & Rose 1920
– Acanthocereus pitajaya (Jacq.) Dugand ex Croizat 1943
– Acanthocereus (P.) rosei* (J.G.Ortega) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus subinermis Britton & Rose 1920
– Acanthocereus (P.) tepalcatepecanus* (Sánchez-Mej.) J.Lodé 2013
– Acanthocereus tetragonus* (L.) Hummelinck 1938

References: “TAXONOMY of the CACTACEAE” – ISBN 978-84-617-3723-9 (Vol. 1)

 

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