Sclerocactus wrightiae - L.D. Benson
Wright's Fishhook Cactus
Other Common Names: Wright's fishhook cactus
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Sclerocactus wrightiae L. Benson (TSN 19766)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.144121
Element Code: PDCAC0J0A0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Cactus Family
Image 21761

Public Domain

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Caryophyllales Cactaceae Sclerocactus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Sclerocactus wrightiae
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Jun2013
Global Status Last Changed: 21Jan1999
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Known from numerous locations in four Utah counties but the number of individuals at each location is usually low. Declines are reported at many sites. Threatened by mineral exploration, off-road vehicle traffic, and illegal collection.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Utah (S2)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (11Oct1979)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R6 - Rocky Mountain

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: It is endemic to east-central Utah, where it is known from western Emery County, southeastern Sevier County, central Wayne County, and a small strip within Garfield County. It occurs near the Fremont River and the San Rafael Swell.

Area of Occupancy: 26-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Nearly all 114 element occurrences have not been updated in the database in over 25 years and almost have of them were already considered historic. Seperation distances have not been assessed for several years. There are probably more like 30-40 occurrences with more than 2 km between sites. Monitoring on federal lands indicates that many occurrences were still extant as of 2008 (USFWS).

Population Size Comments: The number of individuals was estimated at 4,500-21,000 (USFWS 2008).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threats to the species include damage to the habitat during mineral and gas exploration and the mining of coal, gypsum, bentonite and bentonite clay, uranium, vanadium, building stone and gravel. Livestock activity, such as trampling and uprooting of plants, is a threat. Off-road vehicle use causes damage. Illegal collecting is still a problem. The cactus apparently suffers from predation by the beetle Moneilema semipunctatum and perhaps other beetles. Small mammals such as Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii) and white-tailed antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus leucurus) may eat the cactus.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend Comments: Surveys conducted from 1999-2003 to revisit known occurrences indicated a decline in many populations (USFWS 2008).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Soil physiology is a imitating factor for this species, which is rare or absent where cryptobiotic crusts have been destroyed or are undeveloped (USFWS 2008). The USFWS (2008) notes that plants are usually located where three of the four habitat conditions are present: "1) close proximity to fine textured, presumably saline and/or gypsiferous strata that have contributed both texturally and chemically to the soil; 2) close proximity to a sand-forming geologic stratum that contributes to the substrate; 3) fine- or medium-sized gravels, pebbles, or fossil oyster shells in (and particularly littering) the surface of the soil; and 4) level to gently sloping terrain."

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: It is endemic to east-central Utah, where it is known from western Emery County, southeastern Sevier County, central Wayne County, and a small strip within Garfield County. It occurs near the Fremont River and the San Rafael Swell.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States UT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
UT Emery (49015), Sevier (49041), Wayne (49055)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
14 San Rafael (14060009)+, Muddy (14070002)+, Fremont (14070003)+, Dirty Devil (14070004)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A spiny succulent with a rounded stem, 5.5-12 cm tall. Fragrant, yellowish, white, or pale pink flowers bloom in the spring after sufficient rainfall. In winter, the plants may retract into the soil.
General Description: This cactus has a spherical or cylindrical shape and a pale green color. It grows up to 11 cm tall by 8 cm wide. There are several pale radial spines and a few hooked central spines with darkened tips on each areole. The radial spines are up to 2 cm long and the central spines may exceed 4 cm. The fragrant funnel- or bell-shaped flowers are white to pink in color and up to 4 cm long and wide.
Technical Description: This cactus has a spherical or cylindrical shape and a pale green color. It grows up to 11 centimeters tall by 8 wide. There are several pale radial spines and a few hooked central spines with darkened tips on each areole. The radial spines are up to 2 centimeters long and the central spines may exceed 4 centimeters. The fragrant funnel- or bell-shaped flowers are white to pink in color and up to 4 centimeters long and wide. Stems usually unbranched, usually pale green, depressed-spheric, spheric or short cylindric, (1-)4-8(-11) × 4-8 cm; ribs 13-16, tubercles often evident on ribs. Spines slightly or not obscuring stem; radial spines 5-10(-14) per areole, pale to white, 6-17(-20) mm; central spines (3-)4 per areole, terete to angled; abaxial central spine 1 per areole, white to tan with tan to black tips, hooked, 10-30(-44) × 0.5-1 mm; lateral adaxial spines 2 per areole, white or brown to reddish brown or black, 10-21(-35) × 0.8-1.5 mm; adaxial central spine white, flat to angled, 6-27(-35) × 5-15 mm. Flowers fragrant, funnelform to campanulate, sometimes narrowly so, (2-)3-4 × 2-4 cm; outer tepals with reddish brown midstripes and white to cream or pinkish margins, oblanceolate, 13-23 × 3-7 mm; inner tepals white to cream or pink, oblanceolate, 25-30 × 5-7 mm; filaments magenta; anthers yellow. Fruits irregularly dehiscent, ovoid, barrel-shaped, 9-15 × 7-12 mm, scales few or absent; ovary papillate, appearing granular. Seeds black, 2 × 3.5 mm, testa with rounded papillae.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Sclerocactus wrightiae displays considerable morphologic variation, presumably due to introgression with S. parviflorus; however, it can usually be recognized by its noticeably fragrant flowers with pink to white tepals, and magenta staminal filaments. Although S. wrightiae generally has smaller stems and flowers and shorter spines than S. parviflorus, there are many exceptions.
Duration: PERENNIAL, Long-lived
Reproduction Comments: Long distant seed dispersal seems to be a major driver in the species' small distribution (Kass 2001).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Barrens, Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: Barren, alkaline soils with widely scattered shrubs, perennial herbs, bunch grasses, or scattered pinyon and juniper at 1,460-1,865 m elevation. Soils vary from clay, to sandy silts, to fine sands that may have a high gypsum content or contain little or no gypsum. Soil crusts are usually present and the ground surface is usually littered with sandstone or basalt gravels, cobbles, and boulders. Cacti are rare or absent where cryptibiotic crusts have been destroyed or are underdeveloped (USFWS, 1984). Although the recovery plan (USFWS, 1984) indicated the species occurred on a variety of soil formations, today it appears the limiting factor is soil physiology with at least 3 of the following 4 requirements: 1) close proximity to fine textured, presumably saline and/or gypsiferous strata; 2) close proximity to a sand-forming geologic stratum that contributes to the substrate; 3) fine- or medium-sized gravels, pebbles, or fossil oyster shells in (and particularly littering) the surface of the soil; and 4) level to gently sloping terrain (USFWS, 2008).
Economic Attributes
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Economic Uses: Cultivated ornamental, Showy wildflower
Economic Comments: Likely to be collected from the wild.
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A natural occurrence of one or more plants.
Separation Barriers: EOs are separated by either: 1 kilometer or more across unsuitable habitat or altered and unsuitable areas; or 2 kilometers or more across apparently suitable habitat not known to be occupied.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Justification: The rationale for this large a separation distance across suitable but apparently unoccupied habitat is that it is likely additional research will find this habitat to be occupied. It can often be assumed that apparently unconnected occurrences will eventually be found to be more closely connected. No information on mobility of pollen and propagules is available on which to base the separation distance for this species.
Date: 24Jun2002
Author: Ben Franklin
Population/Occurrence Viability
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Excellent Viability: SIZE: 75 or more individuals (based on available EOR data). CONDITION: The occurrence has an excellent likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. This occurrence should be in a high-quality site with less than 1% cover of exotic plant species and/or no significant anthropogenic disturbance. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: The occurrence is surrounded by an area that is unfragmented and includes the ecological processes needed to sustain this species.
Good Viability: SIZE: 25 to 74 individuals (based on available EOR data). CONDITION: 25 to 74 individuals (based on available EOR data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: The occurrence should have a good likelihood of long-term viability as evidenced by the presence of multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. Anthropogenic disturbance within the occurrence is minimal. If exotic species are present, they comprise less than 10% of the total ground cover.
Fair Viability: SIZE: The surrounding landscape should contain the ecological processes needed to sustain the occurrence but may be fragmented and/or impacted by humans. CONDITION: 5 to 24 individuals (based on available EOR data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: The occurrence may be less productive than the above situations, but is still viable, with multiple age classes and evidence of flowering and fruiting, indicating that the reproductive mechanisms are intact. The occupied habitat is somewhat degraded (exotic plant species make up between 10-50% of the total ground cover and/or there is a moderate level of anthropogenic disturbance).
Poor Viability: SIZE: There may be significant human disturbance, but the ecological processes needed to sustain the species are still intact. CONDITION: Less than 5 individuals (based on available EOR data). LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Little or no evidence of successful reproduction is observed (poor seedling recruitment, no flowering or fruiting observed, or poor age class distribution). Exotic plant species make up greater than 50% of the total ground cover, and/or there is a significant level of human disturbance.
Justification: SIZE: Large populations in high quality sites are presumed to contain a high degree of genetic variability, to have a low susceptibility to the effects of inbreeding depression, and to be relatively resilient. EOs not meeting "C"-rank criteria are likely to have a very high probability of inbreeding depression and extirpation due to natural stochastic processes and/or occur in degraded habitat with low long-term potential for survival. CONDITION: Large populations in high quality sites are presumed to contain a high degree of genetic variability, to have a low susceptibility to the effects of inbreeding depression, and to be relatively resilient. EOs not meeting "C"-rank criteria are likely to have a very high probability of inbreeding depression and extirpation due to natural stochastic processes and/or occur in degraded habitat with low long-term potential for survival. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Large populations in high quality sites are presumed to contain a high degree of genetic variability, to have a low susceptibility to the effects of inbreeding depression, and to be relatively resilient. EOs not meeting "C"-rank criteria are likely to have a very high probability of inbreeding depression and extirpation due to natural stochastic processes and/or occur in degraded habitat with low long-term potential for survival.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Feb2016
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Roth, E., rev. B. Franklin (1996), rev. A. Frances (2013), rev. A. Treher (2016)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Bureau of Land Management. 1984. Memorandum of August 14 to Utah State Director from Richfield District Manager: T & E Plant locations and inventory Areas, Instruction memorandum UT 84-270.

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  • Clark, D.J. 2004. 2004 rare plant survey results. Fishlake National Forest, Supervisor's Office, BLM Richfield Field Office, Capital Reef National Park, and Dixie National Forest, Teasdale Ranger District, UT. 16 pp.

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  • Heil, K. 1994. The effects of grazing on threatened/ endangered plant species in The Hartnet and Sandy III grazing allotments, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Conducted for: National Park Service. Unpublished report. San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico. 45 pp. + maps.

  • Heil, K. D. 1987. A vegetation study of Capitol Reef National Park, conducted for the National Park Service. Final progress report for 1986. San Juan College, Farmington, New Mexico. 9 pp.

  • Heil, K. D., J. M. Porter, R. Fleming, and W. H. Romme. 1993. Vascular flora and vegetation of Capitol Reef National Park. Technical report NPS/NAUCARE/NRTR-93/01. 82 pp.

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  • Hochstätter, F. 1990. To the habitats of Pedio- and Sclerocactus. Over 100,000 kilometers in the North American wilderness. 170 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kass, R. 2001a. Demographic monitoring of Wright fishook cactus. In: Maschinski, Joyce; Holter, Louella, tech. eds. 2001. Southwestern rare and endangered plants: Proceedings of the Third Conference; 2000 September 25-28; Flagstaff, AZ. Proceedings RMRS-P-23. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 250 pp. Accessed online on 5/17/2011 at: http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_p023.html

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  • Neese, E. 1987. Final report. Habitat inventory of Sclerocactus wrightiae and other associated sensitive species. Volume I - Text and photographs. Prepared for: [USDI] Bureau of Land Management, Richfield District Office. Neese Investigations, Salt Lake City, Utah. ??? pp.

  • Neese, E. 1987. Final report: Habitat inventory for Sclerocactus wrightiae and other associated sensitive species. 2 volumes. Prepared for: Bureau of Land Management, Richfield District. Prepared by Neese Investigations, Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Tepedino, V. J., T. L. Griswold, and W. R. Bowlin. 2010. Reproductive biology, hybridization and flower visitors of the rare Sclerocactus taxa in Utah's Uinatah Basin. Western North American Naturalist 70(3): 377-386.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1985. Wright fishhook cactus (Sclerocactus wrightiae) recovery plan. Prepared in cooperation with the Wright Fishhook Cactus Recovery Committee. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. 27 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1985. Wright fishhook cactus recovery plan. Prepared in cooperation with the Wright Fishhook Cactus Recovery Committee. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, Colorado. 27 pp.

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