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A Colorado Cactus is Brought Back from Endangerment

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on May 23   |   Updated on June 20
a close-up of a Colorado hookless cactus

Long live the Colorado hookless cactus. (Paul Starosta / Getty Images)

In a big win for local horticulturists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove a Colorado native cactus from the federal threatened species list. Last month, Denver Botanic Gardens reported that recent data analysis indicates the plant’s populations are “stable and resilient.” The  proposal is currently undergoing a 60-day public comment period. If delisting goes through, the plant will officially be removed in June, and Denver Botanic Gardens will work with the Bureau of Land Management on a 10-year post-delisting plan to monitor the cactus.

In 2022, the cactus was one of 16 native Colorado plants listed as threatened or endangered. Denver Botanic Gardens has been tracking wild populations of the cactus since 2008 in order to study how the species was responding to environmental and human-caused stressors.

Scientific name: Sclerocactus glaucus, aka the Colorado hookless cactus

Description: A small barrel cactus, with a bright pink flower that blooms from April to May

Habitat: Found in western Colorado in the Colorado and Gunnison river basins

Threats: Collection by cactus growers, rock quarrying and gold dredging, water developments, and pesticide use

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