Journal Article

Effects of Plant Size and Weather on the Flowering Phenology of the Organ Pipe Cactus (<i>Stenocereus thurberi</i>)

Enriquena Bustamante and Alberto Búrquez

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 102, issue 6, pages 1019-1030
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online October 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Effects of Plant Size and Weather on the Flowering Phenology of the Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi)

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


Show Summary Details


Background and Aims

Flowering phenology is a critical life-history trait that influences reproductive success. It has been shown that genetic, climatic and other factors such as plant size affect the timing of flowering and its duration. The spatial and temporal variation in the reproductive phenology of the columnar cactus Stenocereus thurberi and its association with plant size and environmental cues was studied.


Flowering was monitored during 3 years in three populations of S. thurberi along a latitudinal gradient. Plant size was related to phenological parameters. The actual and past weather were used for each site and year to investigate the environmental correlates of flowering.

Key Results

There was significant variation in the timing of flowering within and among populations. Flowering lasted 4 months in the southern population and only 2 months in the northern population. A single flowering peak was evident in each population, but ocurred at different times. Large plants produced more flowers, and bloomed earlier and for a longer period than small plants. Population synchrony increased as the mean duration of flowering per individual decreased. The onset of flowering is primarily related to the variance in winter minimum temperatures and the duration to the autumn–winter mean maximum temperature, whereas spring mean maximum temperature is best correlated with synchrony.


Plant size affects individual plant fecundity as well as flowering time. Thus the population structure strongly affects flowering phenology. Indications of clinal variation in the timing of flowering and reproductive effort suggest selection pressures related to the arrival of migrating pollinators, climate and resource economy in a desert environment. These pressures are likely to be relaxed in populations where individual plants can attain large sizes.

Keywords: Flowering phenology; optimal timing; plant size; Sonoran Desert; Stenocereus thurberi; temperature

Journal Article.  7512 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.