Wiggins' Cholla [Opuntia wigginsii L. Benson]

Wiggins' Cholla [Opuntia wigginsii L. Benson]

Listing CNPS List 3 R-E-D Code 3-1-2

State/Federal. Status -- /C3b CACTACEAE March

Global Rank G3Q State Rank S1.1

Distribution: San Diego County, Imperial County, Riverside County; Arizona

Habitat: Sonoran Desert Scrub on sandy soils of the lower desert (below 1000 feet) is the reported general habitat of this shrubby cane-type cactus.

Known Sites: No recent San Diego County sightings of this species are known. Reports from the hills northeast of Vallecito Wash, near Canebrake Wash, and on the eastern edge of Mason Valley cannot be confirmed and may be misidentifications. Reported by L. Benson on the Carrizo Desert in extreme eastern San Diego County and in northeastern Imperial County; in Arizona he notes its occurrence from Quartzite to the Gila River and the edge of Maricopa County. Data Base reports for Imperial County note sites in the vicinity of San Felipe Creek approximately 2 miles west of Harpers Well, and a vague site near Palo Verde. One old biological survey report notes a site in San Sebastian Marsh in Imperial County.

Status: The status of Wiggin's Cholla on the southern deserts is presumed stable given the low level of historical disturbance to potential habitat. However, so few extant sites are known in the region, such an assessment must be considered provisional. More collection information is needed. All sites should be protected. A note in the Jepson Manual (1993) mentions that this cane cholla is a possible hybrid between Opuntia ramosissima and Opuntia echinocarpa; however, it is being retained in the CNPS listings.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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