Cephalocereus senilis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Caryophyllales Cactaceae

Scientific Name: Cephalocereus senilis (Haw.) Pfeiff.
Common Name(s):
English Old Man Cactus
Spanish Barba de Viejo, Cabeza de Viejo, Viejito
Cactus senilis Haw.
Taxonomic Notes: This group of columnar cacti have a complicated taxonomy and further work is needed to better delimit the genus and the species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-11-16
Assessor(s): Guadalupe Martínez, J., Sánchez , E. & Bárcenas Luna, R.
Reviewer(s): Superina, M. & Goettsch, B.K.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Schipper, J.
Cephalocereus senilis is listed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(iii,v) due to a limited range (extent of occurrence is approximately 2,170 km2), occurs at one single location based on the threat related to illegal overcollecting across the range, and due to ongoing declines in habitat quality. Overcollection of juveniles is also an ongoing threat and likely causing an imbalance in age distributions of subpopulations.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Mexico, where it is distributed only in the states of Hidalgo and Veracruz (Hunt et al. 2006).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico (Hidalgo, Veracruz)
Additional data:
Number of Locations:1
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is locally abundant, but there is a continuing decline in mature individuals.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is one of the dominant elements of the xerophile scrub where it grows (Reyes-Santiago et al. 2003). The house finch eats the fruits/seed in June, July and November (Mendiola González and Ortiz-Pulido 2006). It is restricted to calcareous canyons within xerophile vegetation.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This is one of the most commonly used succulent species for ornamental purposes. It is removed from the wild and cultivated (Casas and Barbera 2002). There is significant illegal trade and overcollection of juveniles, resulting in age structure and demographic changes in populations.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Juveniles are illegally overcollected for trade as ornamental plants. The species may be at risk from pastoral agriculture (Mendiola González and Ortiz-Pulido 2006). Attempts have been made to transport this species across the Mexican-US border (Robbins and Bárcenas Luna 2003). The cephalia of this species is cut to obtain fruits and seeds (E. Sánchez pers. comm. 2010).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The species is legally protected in Mexico by the national list of species at risk of extinction, NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, where it is listed under the category “threatened” (A; SEMARNAT 2010). A rural nursery in Mixquiahuala, Hidalgo (and elsewhere) is propagating cacti (including Cephalocereus senilis) for commercial and conservation purposes. An environmental education program was established for the conservation of regional flora through courses and workshops provided by the Mexican Cactus and Succulent Society in Hidalgo (Reyes Santiago et al. 2003). The Botanical Gardens of Querétaro are developing an in vitro germination procedure, with which they obtain proliferation of 5x/4 weeks and 100% soil adaptation (E. Sánchez pers. com. 2010).

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):50
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing  ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines  
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Arias, S., U. Gúzman, M.C. Mandujano, M. Soto Galván, J. Golubov. 2005. Las especies mexicanas de cactáceas en riesgo de extinción. I Una comparación entre los listados NOM-059-ECOL-2001 (México), Las Lista Roja (UICN), y CITES. Cactáceas y Suculentas Mexicanas 50(4): 100-124.

Casas, A. 2002. Uso y manejo de cactáceas columnares mesoamericanas. Catáceas y Suculentas Mexicanas XLVIII(1): 11-18.

Casas, A. and Barbera, G. 2002. Mesoamerican domestication and diffusion. In: P.S. Nobel (ed.), Cacti Biology and Uses, pp. 143-162. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Hernández, H. and Godínez, H. 1994. Contribución al conocimiento de cactáceas mexicanas amenazadas. Acta Botánica Mexicana 26: 33-52.

Hernandez, H.M. and R.T. Barcenas. 1996. Endangered Cacti in the Chihuahuan Desert: II. Biogeography and Conservation. Conservation Biology 10(4): 1200-1209.

Hernández, H.M., Gómez-Hinostrosa, C. and Goettsch, B. 2004. Checklist of Chihuahuan Desert Cactaceae. Harvard Papers in Botany 9(1): 51-68.

Hunt, D., Taylor, N. and Charles, G. (compilers and editors). 2006. The New Cactus Lexicon. dh Books, Milborne Port, UK.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Medina Cepeda, J.G. 2004. Herramientas técnicas, tecnológias y de gestión en la empresa familiar mediana y pequeña del distrito en el sector de las flores y plantas y muebles y madera. Facultad de administración de empresas, Universidad de la Salle, Bogotá.

Mendiola González M. E. and R. Ortiz-Pulido. 2006. Impacto del sobrepastoreo en la comunidad de aves de la Reserva de la Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán, Hidalgo, México.

Mendiola González M. E. and R. Ortiz-Pulido. unknown. Impacto del sobrepastoreo en la comunidad de aves de la Reserva de la Biosfera Barranca de Metztitlán, Hidalgo, México.

Reyes Santiago, J., R. Castro Gonzalez, S. Mera Banda and C. Brachet Ize. 2003. Nota sobre el establecimiento de un vivero rural para la propagación de cactáceas y suculentas en el Valle del Mezquital, Hidalgo. Cactáceas y Suculentas Mexicanas XLVIII(4): 118-126.

Robbins, C.S. and R.T.Bárcenas Luna. 2003. Prickly Trade:Trade and Conservation of Chihuahuan desert Cacti. In: Robbins, C.S. (ed.). TRAFFIC North America World Wildlife Fund.

SEMARNAT. 2010. Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, Protección ambiental-Especies nativas de México de flora y fauna silvestres-Categorías de riesgo y especificaciones para su inclusión, exclusión o cambio-Lista de especies en riesgo. Diario Oficial de la Federación.

Citation: Guadalupe Martínez, J., Sánchez , E. & Bárcenas Luna, R. 2013. Cephalocereus senilis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152158A604029. . Downloaded on 22 November 2017.
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