Melocactus holguinensis, a species considered to be in critical danger of extinction, is one of the representative varieties of the hills of the city of Holguín, in the east of Cuba.
Flowers of great color, beauty and spines arranged in the form of small waves, stand out among the main characteristics that identify this plant, discovered in 1976.
This specimen of the cactaceae family can reach five centimeters in length and their populations within the island are found only in arid areas of the eastern city, including the Cerro Galano Nature Reserve.
Norelis Peña, a specialist in the management of Protected Areas, explained that among the greatest dangers to the survival of the variety is the indiscriminate collection of specimens.
He added that forest fires, livestock grazing in areas close to their populations and the introduction of exotic species also threaten melocactus holguinensis, whose colonies barely exceed 100.
Omar Leyva, a biologist at the Botanical Garden of Holguin, said that the priority of specialists is to preserve the genus in its natural environment, since it requires for its development special conditions such as abundant sun and arid soil.
Cuba concentrates more than a thousand species of cactaceae, of which 14 are endemic, with a wide variety of shapes and colors, according to the National Botanical Garden Site.
The country has developed a program for the protection of these plants, which includes among others the Leptocereus assurgens, native to Pinar del Río, and the dwarf cactus, endemic to Holguín, classified by the Red Book of the Cuban Vascular Flora as a species in Critical danger of extinction.
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