A genus honouring Don Bias Escontria Bustamante (1848-1906), governor of the State of San Luis Potosi, in Mexico (see portrait above).
A genus of treelike plants (up to 7 m high), becoming densely branched with age, developing a trunk, with cylindrical branches having 7-8 triangular ribs. Areoles close-set, elongated. 10-20 radial spines, one sturdier central spine, all subulate.
Flowers nocturnal remaining open during the day, self-sterile, subapical, tubular to somewhat bell-shaped, yellowish, floral tube with overlapping, translucent scales, pollinated by hymenoptera (Apis mellifera, Bombus pensylvanicus, Xylocopa mexicanorum), hummingbirds (Amazilia violiceps, A. viridifrons, Cynanthus latirostris, C. sordidus, Hylocharis leucotis) and bats (Choeronycteris mexicana, Leptonycteris curasoae). Fruits scaly, fleshy, mucilaginous, red pulp edible. Seeds shiny and rough, brown-blackish, covered by mucilage, scattered by birds, reptiles or small mammals.
The monotypic genus Escontria grows between 200 m and 1600 m in altitude, and forms forests in semi arid areas of deciduous woodland and xerophytic scrub where it is the dominant plant in the landscape. It prefers plains or slightly sloping hills, as well as areas of disturbance created by human activities, often associated with Pachycereus weberi and Neobuxbaumia tetetzo. Rains fall mainly in early summer. It is occasionally and locally grown for its fruits (chiotilla, jiotilla, qu ioti Ila).
Mexico (Guerrero, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla).
1 only recognised species:
– Escontria chiotilla* (F.A.C.Weber) Rose 1906