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Harrisia fragrans

Harrisia fragrans

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Cactaceae
Subfamilia: Cactoideae
Tribus: Cereeae
Subtribus: Trichocereinae
Genus: Harrisia
Subgenus: H. subg. Harrisia
Sectio: H. sect. Harrisia
Series: H. ser. Harrisia
Species: Harrisia fragrans

Harrisia fragrans Small ex Britton & Rose, Cactaceae 2: 149 (1920).
Type: FLORIDA: St. Lucie Co.: 6 mi. S of Fort Pierce, 20 Dec 1917, Small s.n. (holotype: NY; isotypes: GH, US).


Cereus fragrans (Small ex Britton & Rose) Little, Amer. Midl. Naturalist 33: 496. 1945 syn. sec. Franck 2016
Cereus eriophorus var. fragrans (Small ex Britton & Rose) L.D.Benson in Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 41: 126. 1969 syn. sec. Franck 2016
Harrisia eriophora var. fragrans (Small ex Britton & Rose) D.B.Ward in Novon 14: 366. 2004 syn. sec. Franck 2016
Harrisia simpsonii Small ex Britton & Rose, Cactaceae 2: 152. 1920 syn. sec. Franck 2016
Cereus gracilis var. simpsonii (Small ex Britton & Rose) L.D.Benson in Cact. Succ. J. (Los Angeles) 41: 126. 1969 syn. sec. Franck 2016
Harrisia gracilis var. simpsonii (Small ex Britton & Rose) D.B.Ward in Novon 14: 367. 2004 syn. sec. Franck 2016

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Southeastern USA

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Small, J.K., 1920. Cactaceae 2: 149

Additional references

Anderson, E.F. 2001. The Cactus Family (Timber Press) ISBN 0-88192-498-9.
Franck, A.R. 2012. Systematics of Harrisia (Cactaceae). Graduate School Theses and Dissertations [1].
Wunderlin, R.P. & Hansen, B.F. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. 4 Febr 2009 [2].
Korotkova, N., Aquino, D., Arias, S., Eggli, U., Franck, A. , Gómez-Hinostrosa, C., Guerrero, P.C., Hernández, H.M., Kohlbecker, A., Köhler, M., Luther, K., Majure, L.C., Müller, A., Metzing, D., Nyffeler, R., Sánchez, D., Schlumpberger, B. & Berendsohn, W.G. 2021. Cactaceae at Caryophyllales. org–a dynamic online species-level taxonomic backbone for the family. Willdenowia 51(2): 251–270. DOI: 10.3372/wi.51.51208 Open access Reference page.


Korotkova, N. et al. 2021. Harrisia fragrans in Cactaceae at A global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Published online. Accessed: 2021 Nov 07. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Harrisia fragrans in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2021 May 06. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Harrisia fragrans. Published online. Accessed: May 06 2021. 2021. Harrisia fragrans. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 06 May 2021.
Hassler, M. 2021. Harrisia fragrans. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2021 May 06. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Harrisia fragrans. Accessed: 06 May 2021.
eFloras 2008. Harrisia fragrans in Flora of North America . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Vernacular names
English: Caribbean apple cactus, fragrant prickly-apple cactus
français: pomme parfumée de Barbarie, applecactus des Caraïbes
русский: Харрисия душистая

Harrisia fragrans is a rare species of cactus known by the common name fragrant prickly apple. It is endemic to Florida, where it is known only from St. Lucie County. The plant's habitat has been almost completely consumed by development, leading to its rarity. It is a federally listed endangered species of the United States.


This is an erect or spreading cactus with narrow, long stems which can well exceed one meter in length, at times approaching five meters.[2][3] It is covered in long, yellow or yellow-tipped spines which may be up to 4 centimeters long.[3] It produces enormous tubular flowers up to 20 centimeters long which are sweet-scented and white to pinkish in color.[3] They bloom at night. The fruit is spherical and red or orange in color, measuring up to 6 centimeters wide. The fruits are a favorite food of local birds,[3] which likely help to disperse the seeds.[4] The cactus has been noted to live at least 19 years, and in general has low fecundity; older, larger plants are more likely to survive, and they have higher fecundity, as well.[4] Small plants may benefit from growing with nurse plants.[5]

The plant's favored natural habitat is mostly coastal hammocks with some shade, as the cactus can become desiccated in full sun.[4] Coastal hammocks of this kind have become uncommon as they have been cleared for development and heavily fragmented.[4]

There are ten confirmed occurrences of the plant, nine of which occur around Savannahs Preserve State Park in St. Lucie County and totalled 2150 individuals in the year 2002.[4] The tenth confirmed occurrence is at the Canaveral National Seashore in Volusia County, and it contains about 96 plants.[4] An occurrence has been reported in Indian River County, but it has not been confirmed.[4] The cactus once grew in at least two places in Brevard County, but these populations have been extirpated.[4]

Remaining populations of the cactus can now be found in sandy scrub habitat.[4] The remaining habitat is degraded with the overgrowth of invasive plant species such as love vine (Cassytha filiformis).[4] While the cactus does not like full sun, it also cannot tolerate being shaded out by brush.[4] Other threats to the plant have been all-terrain vehicles, herbicides, feral pigs, and hurricane damage from wind and falling branches.[4] Populations have been vandalized with machetes.[4] Cacti have died from being buried in sand, and have been stolen by cactus enthusiasts and collectors.[4] A scale insect (Diaspis echinocacti), sometimes eats the stems of the cactus, and some sort of caterpillar has been noted to inflict some damage.[4] Woodpeckers have been observed poking holes in the stems, which injures the plants.[5] Most of the remaining populations are within the bounds of a state park, so their habitat is safe from development.[4]

NatureServe. 1994. Harrisia fragrans, Fragrant Prickly-apple. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available Accessed 30 November 2021.
"Comprehensive Report Species - Harrisia fragrans". NatureServe. The Nature Conservancy. August 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
"Harrisia fragrans in Flora of North America @". Flora of North America. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
USFWS. Harrisia fragrans Five Year Review. June 24, 2010.
Possley, Jennifer (March 2010). "National Collection of Imperiled Plants - Plant Profiles". Center for Plant Conservation, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri. Archived from the original on 2010-12-15. Retrieved 31 January 2011.

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