Federal and State Listed Species of Texas:
Black lace cactus

Distribution

Current

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Distribution map of black lace cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albertii).

Scientific Name
Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albertii
Other Scientific Names
Echinocereus melanocentrus, Echinocereus fitchii ssp. albertii
Other Common Names
None
Status
Federally and State Endangered
Global Rank
G5T1Q
State Rank
S1

Global Location

Black lace cactus only grows within the South Texas Coastal Bend counties of Jim Wells, Kleberg, and Refugio.

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Description

Black lace cactus is a succulent perennial that grows in clusters of 1-12+ stems that are to 20 cm tall. The stems are sometimes branched and have 10-13 vertical ridges that are divided into spine-tipped, cone-shaped projections. Spines arising from each of these projections are numerous and so dense that they hide the stem completely. Most of the spines (radial spines) form a tight ring around the projection’s tip, lay flat against the stem, and point sideways, spaced like the teeth of a comb. If present, another spine (the central spine) arises interior to the radial spines and points out from the stem or slightly upward. There are typically 14-20 radial spines, which are white to pink with dark purple tips and grow 3-6 mm long. The single central spine (not always present) is dark purple or black and 2-15 mm long. Black lace cacti have purple-pink flowers with a crimson center and dark green, 15-20 mm long fruits.

Black lace cactus typically has spines with dark purple tips, which gives the plant an overall blackish hue.

Credit: Dana Price - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Black lace cacti have vertical ridges that are divided into spine-tipped, cone-shaped projections. There are typically 14-20 radial spines, which lay flat against the stem.

Credit: Patrick Stark - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

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Similar Species

Black lace cactus is closely related to Fitch’s hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus reichenbachii var. fitchii), but Fitch’s hedgehog cactus has 4-7 muddy red-tipped central spines. The two cacti also occupy different areas and habitats of Texas. Fitch’s hedgehog cactus populations inhabit only shrublands over limestone, sandy or saline soils and further west and south in the South Texas Brush Country than black lace cactus.

Fitch’s hedgehog cactus typically has brownish-red spines, which gives the plant an overall reddish hue.

Credit: Jackie Poole - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

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Floral Characters

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Leaf Characters

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Habitat

Black lace cactus occurs in coastal grasslands and openings in dense scrublands and woodlands along the Gulf Coastal Plain.

Habitat of black lace cactus.

Credit: Dana Price - Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept.

Life Cycle Events

Flowering occurs from April to June, fruiting shortly thereafter.

Survey Season

Black lace cactus can be found throughout the year; however, it is most easily found while in flower from April to June.

Comments

Cacti are well-known for causing disagreement among botanists trying to classify and name them. Cacti have repeatedly been renamed depending upon individual authors and their findings. Black lace cactus has not escaped this process and has had several scientific names since it was first described in 1969.