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The latest news about the recent discovery of the taxon Aztekium valdezii, international intrigues, seed predators and unscrupulous speculators. A plant that is likely to disappear from its habitat in record time.

by: SeedsCactus.com03/01/2014

It was the end of last August when, still numbed by a warm ending summer, a news made us literally jump from our chairs: the discovery of a new species of Aztekium.

All of us, succulents fans, rushed on the net looking for photos, descriptions, characteristics of the new plant ... we wanted to know more! The information that came from Nuevo Leon (Mexico, site of the discovery), however, were fragmentary: only a couple of pictures of the new plant, not particularly clear, were recorded by all the specialized sites and bounced here and there on the net.

The situation began to take shape when the biologist Mario Valdez Maroquin, official discoverer of the new species (which takes his name), in collaboration with C. G. Velazco Macias, M. A. Alvarado Vazquez and S. Arias Montes, botanists from different universities in Mexico, described the plant from a scientific point of view. The description is available on the output of the extraordinary issue of magazine Xerophilia in month of August 2013 and tells of a plant similar to its sisters A. ritteri and A. hintonii, but distinct from those for having slightly smaller dimensions, a different color of the segments of the perianth, not more than 5 ribs, but also a simple root system, a globose body, 3-4 spines for each areola and coloured lilac flowers.

The discovery of great scientific importance, however, began to tease even the perverse minds of businessmen who, in the name of profit, foresaw an easy and immediate opportunity for enrichment. Between the end of August and beginning of September, in fact, it was possible to find some specimen of Aztekium valdezii for sale on ebay and other e-commerce platforms at exorbitant prices: we have personally seen a young plant to be sold for 500 Euros in an online auction. During the same period (but the phenomenon is being repeated in the past few days), many lovers of succulent began to get on their email boxes a newsletter from well-known nurseries in the Czech Republic and containing amazing offers to purchase plants and seeds of the new Aztekium.

We want to remember you, if ever it were needed, that the collection of plant specimens from their habitat (which in the case of Aztekium valdezii is limited to a few square miles in the Sierra Madre Oriental), as well as seeds collection, is strictly prohibited by Mexican authorities since 1988 with a Decree from the standpoint of especially hard sanctions. Severe penalties are provided also by the European Union, which, according to CITES, strictly prohibits the collection of specimens and seeds in the habitat. It is true that the official inclusion of Aztekium valdezii in Annex A of Regulation (EU) No 338/97 and subsequent amendments hasn't yet come, but it is only a matter of time (the A. ritteri is included), but in any case, since the day of its discovery, the new plant is automatically included in Annex B simply as a Cactacea, with all the ensuing consequences for illegal traffickers.

Collection in habitat may be authorized by the above-mentioned solely for purposes of scientific research and to promote the artificial propagation of the species for its preservation, something that has never happened so far. We repeat that no merchant and nurseryman has right to own (and even less to market) Aztekium valdezii seeds or plants; we add that, as suggested by our lawyer, the buyer is jointly responsible for the offense, staging unwary purchase. Forewarned is forearmed.

A sad story like many others, unfortunately. A history of disrespect towards biodiversity and the conservation of species, of impoverishment of the natural environment, but with one strong awareness: with our behavior, we end users can address the traders to respect and legality, not purchasing and becoming complicit in the prohibited trafficking.


NOTE: We do not publish any photos of the plant as the only official images are included in the periodic Xerophilia and are protected by copyright.







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