A great team’s work never ends

Planta!’s volunteers working on the protection of two cacti species from Eastern Cuba gather to share their results. This final meeting, which is also a time for planting and celebration, could be the beginning of new dreams.


Date: 11/12/2019


Proyecto: Conservación, evaluación y recuperación de Dendrocereus nudiflorus.


At Planta!, a project’s final meeting highlights everything that was accomplished and what still needs to be done to reach our goals. It is a reminder that it is not the end, only a stop in time that comes when threatened species start recovering successfully and our work finds committed people to continue it. There is no greater success since our work with the communities can not last forever. Other endangered species await for us and we hope to reach them all.

The meeting

This time we gathered in Berraco, a coastal locality in Eastern Cuba. The attendants were volunteers that had been working for the past two years in the preservation of two important cacti of our native flora: “aguacate cimarron” (Dendrocereus nudiflorus) and “abrojo” (Leuenbergeria zinniiflora). Alexis Morales, Amado Legrá, Alexis Hernández, Ernesto Palacio, Maritza Deloncelet and Yenisey Revilla are names more or less known by the lectors of these pages.

Planta!’s volunteer’s passion for conservation makes a whole forest grow. José Angel, Duniel and Sandy take part in the propagation of threatened species…

We chose the locality of Berraco because a natural population of “aguacate cimarron” grows here as well as scattered individuals of “abrojo”. Moreover, this is where Maritza and her team are from and they have the best results for the propagation of both species.


After presenting the results, we finalized a protocol for future conservation work with these species. It is a sort of manual that includes the conservation status of the species per locality, their threats, actions needed for their preservation and stakeholders involved. Sharing our experience working with these cacti will contribute with their preservation in the future

Sharing experiences in cacti conservation was the main goal of the meeting.

Encouraging outcomes

So far, we have been able to reintroduce 800 individuals of “aguacate cimarron”. This is a significant amount of plants considering that less than 2000 individuals have been reported to Cuba, and less than 200 are juveniles. Our goal however, is to reach 10 000 individuals, a real challenge since the species is very hard to propagate.


Today we know that in Varadero (a well-known touristic area of Cuba) occurs the biggest population of aguacate cimarron while Holguin has the highest amount of juveniles. In Maisi (Eastern end of Cuba) the second biggest population occurs. However, the Huracan Mathew in 2016 took down 20% of them and the ones remaining have not fructify again. Local workers leaded by Alexis Morales collected cuttings of the dying plants. The cuttings were planted and survived. We are really looking forward to see these new plants fructify.


Amado Legra in his home town Baitiquiri, not only has worked in the propagation of the species from seeds (he has planted over 300 plants by now) but also shares his optimism and enthusiasm with his community. Many people who it used to be sceptic about his work are now even asking him to plant aguacate cimarron in their gardens.


As for the “abrojo”, 500 individuals have been taken to their natural habitats. Even though the populations of Santiago de Cuba have been reduced due to cattle raising, there are other populations to the south of Las Tunas and Camaguey with many known individuals. One of the biggest threats of this cactus is the competition posed by the “marabu”, invasive species that is occupying most of its natural habitat.

So far, 800 “aguacates cimarrones” (Dendrocereus nudiflorus) have been planted in their natural habitats

Sharing the same passion

During our meeting four “aguacates cimarrones” and two “abrojos” were planted. It was very symbolic since this might be the last time we will meet. We also celebrated Amado’s birthday and surprised him with a homemade cake.


At dusk, we went to the coast to see the spectacular Harrisia fernowii flowering. Although we walked quite a lot we could only find a single flower. The next day, I trained Amado and Alexis Morales on measuring Cuban cacti. They work in protected areas and they are already applying learned skills.


At the end of our meeting every volunteer committed to keep working not just with the “aguacate cimarron” and the “abrojo” but also with other threatened native cacti. This is very encouraging since preserving the ecosystem is much more than just protecting part of it. We have been able to create a great team in these past couple of years and the fact that they will keep up with their good work shows that the culmination of the project it is not the end.

The volunteer’s team is committed with the conservation of native cacti.

This planting of “aguacate cimarron” and “abrojo” joined us all.

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