Chisos Mountain Hedgehog Cactus
Echinocereus chisoensis var. chisoensis
threatened since 1988Big Bend National Park
The Chisos Mountain hedgehog cactus has deep green or bluish-green stems, with at least a dozen spines on each areole, or branch. In the spring, tri-colored flowers of red, white and fuschia make the plant easy to spot.
The Chisos Mountain hedgehog cactus is found near its namesake peak, at around 2,000 feet in elevation where vegetation is sparse. It grows in bare soil, often near creosote bushes and dog cholla.
When the Chisos Mountain hedgehog cactus was listed as an endangered species, only about 1,000 individual plants were known to exist within Big Bend National Park.
Overgrazing through the mid-1900s may have led to a significant enough decline in groundcover needed for suitable Chisos Mountain hedgehog cactus habitat. Once the population declined, it became more susceptible to other natural and human-caused threats.
To achieve recovery, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined the Chisos Mountain hedgehog cactus needs 50 distinct populations, each with at least 100 reproductive individuals, that are stable over a 10-year monitoring period. The agency has taken a variety of steps toward that goal, including studying the species and its habitat needs, starting a seed bank, and educating national park staff, volunteers and the public on how and why the cactus should be protected.