Uebelmannia buiningii (2008)

By Chris Deem (August 2008)

They say our moon is slowly moving further away into space, but tonight, the moon is full. Its haunting pale face casts a cold reflective light on a sight that might be overlooked in the brighter activities of day. In the darkness, when all is quiet, it is sometimes easier to see what is missing.

Sit here, on this broken quartz stone. Your eyes will soon adjust to the dim light. Look down at the cleared fields where the rainforest once grew. I see you have noticed the shovel marks.

A small population of Uebelmannia buiningii used to grow here. The plants are quite rare, you know. They have a reddish coloring that makes them really stand out. I wish you could have seen them. Well, looking at all the Pilosocereus cacti growing here, I suppose it is still a very pretty place. Still, tonight I can feel the emptiness, and the moon seems very far away.

The discovery of Uebelmannia pectinifera in the 1960s was met with great excitement. In 2008, one of its closest related species faces extinction. U. buiningii is a rare group of cacti that have branched off, most probably from the U. gummifera species. Growing in isolation, they have become a species unto themselves.

The most notable difference from other uebelmannias is that U. buiningii lack a gummy substance called mucilage cells. They are also smaller-sized cacti with a unique coloring, quite different from their close relation, U. gummifera. There are only a handful of known sites of U. buiningii, and its future looks grim.

Our library contains the book Uebelmannia and Their Environment. Please read it. It has great information on all known Uebelmannia species and on the plight of this most critically endangered uebelmannia.