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Origin and Habitat: Peniocereus viperinus is endemic to Mexico, where it is known to occur in the states of Morelos, Oaxaca and Puebla. Type locality: Zapotitlan, Mexico. The species occurs in small isolated subpopulations, each with less than 10 mature individuals.
Altitude range: It grows at elevations from 1,000 to 1,700 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: Peniocereus viperinus inhabits tropical deciduous forests, xerophyllous scrub and cardonales. The species is threatened by habitat modification due to expanding small-scale farming and cattle ranching.
- Peniocereus viperinus (F.A.C.Weber) Buxb.
Peniocereus viperinus (F.A.C.Weber) Buxb.
Kakteen (H. Krainz) 62: clla. 1975
- Peniocereus viperinus (F.A.C.Weber) Buxb.
- Cereus viperinus F.A.C.Weber
- Cullmannia viperina (F.A.C.Weber) Distefano
- Wilcoxia viperina (F.A.C.Weber) Britton & Rose
- Peniocereus papillosus (Britton & Rose) U.Guzmán
- Wilcoxia papillosa Britton & Rose
- Peniocereus tomentosus (Bravo) Buxb.
SPANISH (Español): Organito de Vibora, Cardoncillo, Viborita
Description: Long cultivated under the synonym Wilcoxia viperina, Peniocereus viperinus is a shrubby geophyte cactus with numerous slender branches, to 3 m high. This species shares the slender stems and tuberous roots of some members of that genus. The plant is remarkable among Cereeae in having puberulent stems.
Derivation of specific name: The Latin epithet 'viperinus', snake-like, refers to the slender elongate stems of the plant.
Roots: Tuberous, divided, fleshy, robust. Several storage roots are formed during different years. Aboveground vegetative and generative organs are produced when water becomes available. During this period, as in all geophytes, photosynthates are produced and transported to the tuberous root where they are accumulated in form of starch. During dry season, aboveground organs die.
Stems: Elongated, trailing, branching, grey-green, 8-20 mm in diameter and becoming spineless. Branches densely velvety-pubescent, 8 mm in diameter or less. Stem is narrow and less succulent than in most other Cactaceae.
Ribs: About 6-10, very low, inconspicuous.
Areoles: Small 1-3 cm apart.
Spines: About 8-12, dark grey to black. Central spines3-4, to 6 mm (0.2 in) long, soon deciduous. Radial spines, 8-9, shorter (c. 4 mm long), flattened against the stem surface.
Flowers: Diurnal, bright pink to glossy red, borne laterally on the stems, bright red, to 9 cm long, and 4 cm in diameter. Spines of ovary and corolla-tube black, bristle-like, intermixed with long white wool.
Blooming season: Summer.
Fruits: Pear shaped.
Seeds: 2.5-4 mm, smooth.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Arias, S. & Zavala-Hurtado, A. 2013. “Peniocereus viperinus.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T152564A651666. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T152564A651666.en. Downloaded on 02 April 2016.
2) David Hunt, Nigel Taylor “The New Cactus Lexicon” DH Books, 2006
3) N. L. Britton, J. N. Rose: “The Cactaceae. Descriptions and Illustrations of Plants of the Cactus Family.” Volume 2, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington 1920
4) Edward F. Anderson “The Cactus Family” Timber Press, 2001
5) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/August/2011
6) Amram Eshel, Tom Beeckman “Plant Roots: The Hidden Half, Fourth Edition” CRC Press, 17 April 2013
7) Backeberg, C.“Die Cactaceae. Handbuch der Kakteenkunde”. Vols. 1-6. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena. 1958-1962.
8) Bravo-Hollis, H. “Las cactáceas de México”. Vol. 1, 2nd ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México 1978
9) Cullmann et al., “Kakteen”, edn 5, 1984
10) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer Science & Business Media, 11 March 2004
11) Arias, M.S., Gama, S. and Guzmán, U. “Flora del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán.” Fasículo 14. Cactaceae A.L. Juss. Instituto de Biología, UNAM, Mexico.1997
12) Guzmán, U., Arias, S. and Dávila, P.“Catálogo de Cactáceas Mexicanas.” UNAM-CONABIO, Mexico City. 2003
13) Méndez-Larios, I., E. Ortiz and J.L. Villaseñor. “Las Magnoliophyta endémicas de la porción xerófitica de la provincia florística del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, México.” Anales del Instituto de Biología, Serie Botánica 75(1): 87-104. 2004
14) Méndez-Larios, I., Lira, R., Godínez-Alvarez, H., Dávila, P. and Ortiz, E. “Proposal for the establishment of the core zones in the Biosphere Reserve of Tehuacán-Cuicatlán, Mexico.” Biodiversity and Conservation 15: 1627-1659. 2006
15) Paredes-Flores, M., Lira-Saade, R. and Dávila-Arana, P. “Estudio etnobotánico de Zapotitlán Salinas, Puebla.” Acta Botanica Mexicana 79: 13-61. 2007
Cultivation and Propagation: Peniocereus viperinus produces best results in loose and very drained soil, rich in leaf-mould, and if sufficient water is supplied in warm weather a rather considerable growth can be made. It needs bright shade to partial sun. The plants will stand but little cold and require a minimum winter temperature of about 10° C. (but can resist for short period to 0° C). Growth is rapid, and supports are needed for the stems. The half‑erect habit of the moderately tall plants makes them desirable for middle foreground position in landscaping, while the comparatively small room needed for potted plants makes it an acceptable group for greenhouse culture.
Uses: In Mexico the species is used as food and as an ornamental, and the products are extracted from wild populations. Sometime it is used as a strong and fast growing grafting stock.
Propagation: By cuttings.
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