The Black Lace Cactus
(Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albertii)
This colorful plant is a favorite of collectors around the world. Over the years it has been over-collected due to its beautiful flowers. The pattern of spines on each stem looks like lace. The 6-inch stems grow alone or in small groups in wet, sandy soil near the Texas coast. It grows in south Texas along the Gulf Coast in only three counties, Refugio, Jim Wells, and Kleberg. In areas where shrubs and brush have been cleared to plant grass for cattle grazing, the cactus has disappeared.
The major threats to the plant are:
- Habitat destruction
There have been no formal conservation efforts, but the owners of the private properties where the cacti are located have been informed about their presence and significance. Some parts of the properties have been gated to prevent disturbances to the cacti. The Coordinator of Environmental Education in that area has also been able to discourage collectors from visiting that site. The seeds have been collected and stored in hopes of repopulating it.