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southern Utah

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southern Utah

Postby peterb » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:53 am

Coincidentally, just before another forum member posted some great pics of cacti of the St. George Utah area, my girlfriend suggested we visit Zion National Park for Thanksgiving. I was surprised by the paucity of records for cacti in this general area, although there are some interesting outlying records to the southwest in the Hurricane area (Pedio simpsonii, fickeisenii) and some obscure old records that have never been duplicated from Clover. I was particularly interested to find Echinomastus johnsonii in Utah. It turns out there is a population of these plants near the Utah/Arizona border, north of Beaver Dam. This population is somewhat reminiscent of the Meadview AZ plants and the Death Valley plants.

The scenery in Zion was incredible. What a place! It was interesting seeing so many Opuntia aurea, also. This is not a plant with which I was that familiar before. It looked to me that all the Echinocereus I saw were mojavensis.

Some cactus pics from the trip below.

peterb
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aurea
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a few of these very spiny plants that look like aurea polyacantha hybrids to me
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I guess this is engelmannii?
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Mam tetrancistra in Hurricane
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E. johnsonii just barely in Utah
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engelmannii chrysocentrus, the blonde version
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E. johnsonii
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Escobaria chlorantha in Utah
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Re: southern Utah

Postby Tony » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:15 am

Nice variety! Love the blonde engelmannii.
I wonder if MG has seed for that?
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Re: southern Utah

Postby CoronaCactus » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:24 am

Those johnsonii could also pass for blondes ;)

Great pics, PB!
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Re: southern Utah

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:25 pm

nice photos. I need to visit S. Utah. I was going to go up before with my Ex's Dad, but the trip fell through somehow. He used to work at a testing place on Hurricane Mesa.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby iann » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:28 pm

I bet those are some hardy Mammillarias :)
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Re: southern Utah

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:32 pm

BTW I have some hybid O. aurea that are of course O. aurea X O. basilaris (at least I think that is what it was mixed with) that have magenta flowers. * I was informed that this is not correct. My apologies. Likely it's O. aurea X O. pinkavae or O. polycantha instead.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby tumamoc » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:36 pm

Nice.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby gemhunter178 » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:18 am

Nice habitat pictures! =D>
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Re: southern Utah

Postby A. Dean Stock » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:12 am

Peter, as you saw, E. johnsonii is quite common all across the Beaver Dam Slope with some really colorful forms of it. In places they are so abundant it is hard to walk between them. The Opuntia of Zion are almost entirely hybrids and few non-introgressed plants occur there. In the lower reaches near the entry there are some good O chlorotica and Some of the O. aurea hybrids on the upper east side are more typical of O. aurea but many have pink flowers. Hard to work in the park so much of the hybriization is not documented with chromosome counts. Many counts are available howerver from east and south of the park that documents the hybrid nature of the populations. A number of plants in Zion appear to be completely O. engelmannii and these occur with O. phaeacantha. It is likely that all are introgressed to some extent. The O. engelmannii genes are present all along the Virgin River drainage and up the Santa Clara Creek drainage for some distance. The flowers of many of these plants are red to orange colors and the fruit large and very sweet making them perfect for eating or making cactus jelly.
Many of the Opuntia plants in the upper reaches of Zion are O. macrorhiza hybrids but no true O. macrorhiza have yet been documented in the park. Zion would be a very interesting place to study cactus genetics and hybriidization but it is almost impossible to work in the park so little good work has been accomplished.
Strangely, most of the plants that appear to be E. mohavensis in the Zion area are actually E. coccineus (tetraploids). When you see them in flower it is obvious.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby peterb » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:53 pm

Dean, thanks for the clarifications. Why is it almost impossible to work in the park? Federal regs? Interesting to hear that the Echinocereus are tetraploids. What a wacky bunch those coccineus-types are.

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Re: southern Utah

Postby A. Dean Stock » Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:32 am

The main difficulty is probably the Fed regulations but I suspect that a lot of it is simply "Park Mentality". For instance, if you are studying Opuntia hybrids in Zion, they usually won't let you sample a mature seed pod to look at the seeds. Forget the fact that they all fall off and the rodents, deer, birds, etc. get them. Even if you offered to return the seeds to the environment you would still have a difficult time getting permission. I'm sure that some of this attitude is justified because, with the millions of visitors they have going through the park, they must enforce the "don't touch" rules or there wouldn't be anything left. Collecting is a nightmare of red tape and endless forms and proposals to submit. Much easier to just work the BLM and private land plants close to the park boundary. Certain individuals seem to be able to get permits to work in the park but it is difficult at best.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:01 am

Dean,
that is one of the problems tho, here in AZ. It seems our government decides that native plants on BLM lands don't belong to the people but instead belong to them, so they can destroy plants to allow companies profit, IE all the saguaros that were destroyed on the pipeline that went through my town... If it hadn't been for a few people that noticed, they would have wiped them out everywhere. I however was glad to be a part of the rescue efforts of the saguaros. Most are surviving although I am losing another one.. (the tallest, it's turning black)
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Re: southern Utah

Postby peterb » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:47 pm

I think the Feds do a pretty good job of protecting land and plants, generally speaking, especially considering the alternative and considering the vast acreage for which they are responsible. I was amazed by the swarm of people at Zion over Thanksgiving. However, it does seem there is too much red tape for legitimate researchers to collect plants or parts of plants and it can also be true that lease rates are way too low, compared to the damage done by oil drilling, mining, grazing, logging, etc. Anyway, I'm in favor of it being harder rather than easier to collect. It's just that researchers on staff somewhere should have some kind of expedited process or other.

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Re: southern Utah

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:35 am

PeterB, I agree there. I disagree with the plants that are destroyed that we get nothing from, like those destroyed by industry. I would rather lose none. For legit research then I am ok with it, sorry for the rant, I just get upset about the destruction of plants in habitat, and MOST of it is not done by research.. as I am sure you are aware.
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Re: southern Utah

Postby A. Dean Stock » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:05 pm

Some cacti are so threathened that every effort should be made to protect them whether in Parks or not. I would never take any of the threatened Pediocactus or Sclerocactus for specimens but Opuntia are different. I simply remove a single pad from a healthy plant for research. The plant remains intact and is not affected by loss of a single pad. Of course, if lots of people do that the Opuntia would also be threatened. In Parks there is a one rule fits everything approach that hampers any kind of research but I agree that I'd rather have it that way than no protection. I just don't even attempt to work in National Parks or National Rec Areas.
When you are doing research and have to obtain permits, it doesn't take much exposure to the system to learn that BLM is the "easiest" to deal with next comes the Forest Service which can vary greatly from one forest to another and finally the Nat. Park system which is almost impossible to deal with. Depending on the state, state park lands can be easy to impossible to deal with. Arizona is probably one of the most difficult states to work in because the State has claimed ownership of cacti whether on private property or not. Arizona also has transport laws that make it even more difficult for researchers. You can have all valid permits and still get in trouble because you lack a State of Arizona transportation permit.
PeterB. I agree that it is best to come down on the side of harder vs easier to collect plants but the problem with Parks like Zion is that they often do have staff personell that can collect cacti but I've never found a park anywhere in the system that had a botanist on hand that could correctly ID Opuntia cacti.
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