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The Cactus That Came Back From The Dead

Amir Aziz
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When a plant barely exists in the natural world but lives on your windowsill, is it really endangered? - The cactus’s only unique adaptation enhances its solitude: while it can grow in garden-centre cactus soil, in the wild it has only ever been found on tezontle rock.

Endangered Cacti

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the M. tezontle cactus as a “highly threatened”
    • However, it can never truly be considered extinct
    • The cactus is actually plentiful
  • The market for smuggled/seed-grown cacti ensured that M. tezontle is actually plentiful.
  • Many endangered cactus species occupy hyperlocal regions: a single field, a particular mountain range, the bank of a certain lake.

Ex situ vs In situ Conservation

  • “ex situ” conservation
    • conserving a species outside its native habitat
    • may be difficult due to poaching regulations by various governments
  • “in situ” conservation
    • conserving a species within its native habitat
  • Taken together, conserving land in situ and changing that land with ex situ species creates a two-pronged strategy for preserving and propagating threatened wildlife.
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