Extrafloral nectaries of Cylindropuntia imbricata (Cactaceae) in the southern Chihuahuan Desert: anatomy and interaction with ants Article uri icon


  • Cylindropuntia imbricata is a common cactus species from North American deserts that has extrafloral nectaries (EFNs). We assessed: (i) the anatomical structure of the EFNs of C. imbricata to determine whether they are vascularized or not, and (ii) whether water availability in the soil and soil temperature are related to the abundance of ants visiting C. imbricata. The study site was in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, in the southern Chihuahuan Desert. EFNs of C. imbricata are vascularized, so they have a constant flow of resources and can produce nectar even when the plant experiences periods of drought, although perhaps less nectar. The availability of water was the most vital factor as a regulator of the interaction between the EFNs of C. imbricata and the ants. Irrigation increased the abundance of visitor ants, with the main species being Liometopum apiculatum, Crematogaster opuntiae and Pseudomyrmex pallidus, with L. apiculatum the most abundant species of them. The present work is the first to investigate the anatomy of the EFNs of C. imbricata and the first to demonstrate their functional relevance in cacti. © 2018, Springer Nature B.V.

publication date

  • 2019-01-01