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Scientific Name

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Photo by Deb Clark
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service

San Rafael cactus, Pediocactus despainii, is a Federally listed endangered plant that occurs in Emery County, Utah. A member of the cactus family, this species is a small, subglobose to ovoid cactus with usually solitary stems; the crown of the stem is at or very near ground level. Its flowers are born near the tip of the stem, are yellow bronze to peach bronze, rarely pink in color, and bloom during April and May. San Rafael cactus is found in fine textured soils rich in calcium derived from the Carmel Formation and the Sinbad Member of the Moenkopi Formation. It occurs on benches, hill tops, and gentle slopes in pinyon-juniper and mixed desert shrub-grassland communities, at elevations ranging from 1450 to 2080 meters. The habitat of this species is vulnerable to surface disturbance from off-road vehicle use, trampling by humans and livestock, and by mineral resource explorations and development.


  • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. (Draft) Utah Pediocactus: San Rafael cactus (Pediocactus despainii) and Winkler cactus (Pediocactus winkleri) recovery plan. USDI Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, CO. 28 pp.