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Images of Dry Tropical Habitat:
Beaucarnea sp. (Agavaceae) from Mexico

With its bloated stem and tufts of narrow leaves on skinny stems, this genus is one of the oddest members of Mexican dry forests. Click on a thumbnail for a larger image:

1. 2. 3.

1. An individual of the Ponytail Palm Beaucarnea recurvata growing directly out of a vertical limestone cliff face, seen from below.
2. Beaucarnea gracilis. Note the deeply furrowed bark that would look at home on a pine tree.
3. The tree on the middle right is a B. gracilis. Though they look like Century Plants (Agave), the green, spiky rosettes in the foreground are a member of the genus Hechtia, in the Pineapple Family (Bromeliaceae)! One of the shrubs at the base of the Beaucarnea is a Setchellanthus, a mustard-oil producing plant placed in a family all by itself.

If you are interested in Beaucarnea, a recent article shows that B. gracilis is having a hard time in the wild, since too many people are digging up the small plants to use them as ornamentals:

  • Cardel, V. 1997. Ecological status of Beaucarnea gracilis, an endemic species of the semiarid Tehuacan Valley, Mexico. Conservation Biology 11 (2): 367-374.

    Please get in touch! molson@ibiologia.unam.mx
    ©1999 Mark E Olson