Bergerocactus emoryi (golden cereus, golden-spined cereus, golden snake cactus, velvet cactus, golden club cactus) is a species of cactus. It is the sole member of the genus Bergerocactus, named after Alwin Berger. The plant is also known as snake cactus, though this latter name also applies to Echinocereus pensilis.[1]

Bergerocactus emoryi1MIBEA.jpg

Imperiled (NatureServe)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Echinocereeae
Genus: Bergerocactus
Britton & Rose
B. emoryi
Binomial name
Bergerocactus emoryi

Cereus emoryi


This cactus is frail, appears in clusters, and has up to 20 ribs and ramifications. It is rarely taller than 1 m, and its diameter is usually less than 5 cm. Flowers are yellow and appear near the plant's apex, reaching 2 cm in length and diameter. They are tunnel-shaped. The plant flowers from May through June.[2]


The cactus has a chromosome count of 2n=44.


The golden cereus is known to hybridize with other species of cacti. Both occur in the vicinity of El Rosario. Hybrids include:

× Myrtgerocactus lindsayiEdit

Moran (Lindsay hybrid cactus)

A naturally occurring intergeneric hybrid between Myrtillocactus cochal.[1] Its generic name comes from those of its parents ("Mytillocactus" and "Bergerocactus") and its specific epithet, "lindsayi", is in honor of the botanist George Lindsay. The cactus was first found by Lindsay near El Rosario, Baja California, in 1950 while on a trip to look for Pacherocactus. Specimens were cultivated at the Desert Botanical Garden, finally blooming in 1961 and formally described the following year.[3]

× Pacherocactus orcuttiiEdit

(K. Brandegee) G.D. Rowley (Orcutt hybrid cactus)

A naturally occurring intergeneric hybrid with Pachycereus pringlei.[1] It is a natural hybrid between Pachycereus pringlei and Bergerocactus emoryi, discovered near El Rosario, Baja California. The plant's generic name is formed from those of its parents (Pachycereus and Bergerocactus); sometimes it can be found listed as Pachycereus × Bergerocactus.[4] It can grow to a height of about 3.5 m and a diameter of about 10 cm. The cactus does not thrive below 10 °C. Its flowers are green-brown in color and of about 4 cm in size.[5]

Distribution, habitat, and conservationEdit

The plant is near-endemic to Baja California, with the exception of populations on Santa Catalina Island, San Clemente Island, and San Diego, California. The populations remaining in San Diego are disjunct, located in Border Field State Park, Torrey Pines State Park, and Cabrillo National Monument, as the urban development in San Diego has relegated many species to these protected areas.[6][7]

Other rare species that inhabit these enclaves of maritime succulent scrub in San Diego include Shaw's Agave, the Torrey Pine, the Tapertip liveforever, cliff spurge, and the San Diego barrel cactus.[8] Aside from urban development, the plant is also threatened by collecting and feral goats.[2]

The species is represented on the two of the southern California Channel Islands. On San Clemente Island, the golden cactus is found inhabiting rocky canyon walls.[9]

In Baja California, the species continues from the border south into the succulent scrub to El Rosario.[1] It occurs on numerous islands off the coast; however, climate change and other anthropogenic influences are threatening the insular populations. On Isla San Martin, a volcanic island off of the San Quintin Bay, only a single clump of the cactus is left.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Rebman, J. P.; Gibson, J.; Rich, K. (2016). "Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Baja California, Mexico" (PDF). San Diego Society of Natural History. 45.
  2. ^ a b Parfitt, Bruce D. (2012). "Bergerocactus emoryi". Jepson eFlora. Jepson Flora Project.
  3. ^ Anderson, Edward (2001). The Cactus Family. Timber Press. pp. 471-472.
  4. ^ "×Pacherocactus G. D. Rowley". Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Pacherocactus orcuttii". Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  6. ^ Oberbauer, Tom (February 13, 2018). "Botany in San Diego Before European Contact". California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter. California Native Plant Society.
  7. ^ "Bergerocactus emoryi". NatureServe. Arlington, Virginia: NatureServe. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  8. ^ "Native Plant Species". National Park Service. September 10, 2018.
  9. ^ Raven, Peter H. (1963) "A Flora of San Clemente Island, California," Aliso: A Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany: Vol. 5: Iss. 3, Article 8. Available at:
  10. ^ Vanderplank, Sula; Mata, Sergio (1 November 2010). "The Succulent Scrub of San Martín Island, Baja California, Mexico" (PDF). Cactus and Succulent Journal. Cactus and Succulent Society of America. 82(6): 252–258.

External linksEdit