Genus honouring Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637), French astronomer, botanist and naturalist (misspelled).
A genus of shrubby to treelike plants, much branched, with sometimes tuberous roots. Branches cylindrical, hardly succulent, non-segmented, non-ribbed and not tuberculate, with stoma present on stems, with persistent green epidermis, delaying making bark (periderm). Leaves present, wide, little or non succulent, deciduous or subpersistent. Areoles having often many spines, glochids absent.
Flowers diurnal, self-sterile, solitary or in groups, arranged in panicles or in corymbs, rotate, pedunculate or sessile, white, pink or red, pollinated by bees, flies or hummingbirds. Fruits bacciform (berry-like) or pear-shaped, juicy, indehiscent, pulp present or absent. Seeds large, brown to black, rounded, oboval or reniform (kidney-shaped), shiny. The dispersal of fruits fallen on the ground is ensured by frugivorous mammals.
The genus Pereskia grows in South America, and in the Carribbean islands (P. aculeata, introduced), from sea level up to 2180 m in altitude, in very localized populations, in the shade among shrubs, often on sloping areas, in deciduous dry forests, spiny thickets or in wetter areas, where the temperatures vary little during the year and are moderate (mesothermic area). It composes a part of the treeline of dry forests, and often goes unnoticed as a cactus, except
Vol. 2 Taxonomy of the Cactaceae 127 when flowering. Most of the species have been taken into cultivation as hedge plants in the regions where they are native.
Argentina (Catamarca, Chaco, Formosa, Jujuy, Salta), Bolivia (Beni, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Tarija), Brazil (Bahia, Ceara, Espirito Santo, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo), Paraguay (Alto Paraguay, Alto Parana, Amambay, Boqueron, Caazapa, Canindeyu, Central, Concepcion, Cordillera, Itapua, Guaira, Paraguari, San Pedro), Peru (Amazonas, Cajamarca, La Libertad), Uruguay. Pereskia horrida subsp. rauhii, El Platanillo, Cajamarca, Peru. c Olivier Klopfenstein
Currently 9 recognised species plus 2 subspecies:
– Pereskia aculeata* Miller 1768
– Pereskia bahiensis* Gurke 1908
– Pereskia diaz-romeroana* Cardenas 1950
– Pereskia grandifolia* Haworth 1819
– Pereskia grandifolia subsp. violacea* (Leuenberger) Taylor & Zappi 1997
– Pereskia horrida* (Kunth) D.c. 1828
– Pereskia horrida subsp. rauhii* (Backeberg) Ostolaza 1998
– Pereskia nemorosa* Rojas Acosta 1897
– Pereskia sacharosa* Grisebach 1879
– Pereskia stenantha* Ritter 1979
– Pereskia weberiana* K.Schumann 1898