Nolina brittoniana


Asclepias viridula


Melocactus intortus

*Account prepared in 1993

The Appendices of CITES are amended by agreement of the member states. Normally changes are made following consideration of detailed proposals at the Conference of the Parties which is held every two years. Changes may also be made through postal votes between the meetings.

A list of the succulent plants included in the Appendices of CITES is given in Annex 3. The listing is not fully comprehensive for horticulturally desirable succulents or fully representative of species threatened by trade. Some succulents were included in the original Appendices of the Convention drawn up in 1973 before detailed justifications were required for each taxon listed. Subsequent amendments to the Appendices have been based on more thorough compilation of information, but, in general, the data available on which to base CITES proposals for succulent genera has been, and remains, incomplete.

Many succulents do not yet benefit from international trade controls through CITES. These include many rarities native to Madagascar and Africa which are sought by collectors. There is currently a fashion within the trade for caudiciform or swollen-stemmed plants, which occur in a wide range of families and genera. During the past decade caudiciform plants, such as Kedrostris, Raphionacme, Cyphostemma, Dioscorea, Adenium, and Fockea, all non-CITES, together with Pachypodium and

CITES export permit, Peru.

Euphorbia caudiciforms, have become popular houseplants. Many of these plants are slow-growing in cultivation and wild-collected plants are regularly offered. Certain genera and species warrant CITES listing and a recommendation for development of proposals is given in Chapter 4. Further research is necessary to determine the impact of trade on other succulents and their suitability for CITES listing.

Artificially propagated plants

CITES defines artificially propagated plants as grown from seeds, cuttings, or propagules under "controlled conditions", where the stock has been established and maintained in such a way that does not damage the survival of the species in the wild. The material should be managed in a manner designed to maintain the artificially propagated stock indefinitely.

Artificially propagated Appendix I species may be treated in the same way as Appendix II species under the terms of the Convention. Artificially propagated Appendix II species are effectively treated as if they were non-CITES by some countries, although permitting requirements vary. It is generally considered that some minimum documentation needs to accompany such Appendix II species in international trade to show that they are not taken from the wild. One option allowed by CITES is the use of phytosanitary certificates annotated for CITES purposes.

Millions of artificially propagated plants of both non-CITES and CITES-listed succulent species, including large numbers of those on Appendix I, are traded internationally. This legitimate trade does not impact on wild populations of the plants concerned and should be encouraged to stem demand for wild plants. Most nurseries trading internationally deal only with propagated material, but this is not always the case. There are frequent instances of wild plants being mislabelled as artificially propagated in order to escape CITES controls. Commercial succulent plant propagation in succulent-rich countries such as Madagascar and Mexico is not yet sufficiently well developed, as discussed in the regional sections of Chapter 3.

A resolution was passed on nursery registration at the CITES Conference of the Parties held in Fort Lauderdale in 1994. The intention of nursery registration is primarily to facilitate propagation and trade, is widely seen as a desirable means to simplify the licensing arrangements. This would ease the burden of paperwork for nurseries exporting only artificially propagated material.

Implementation of CITES

Implementation of CITES is through the national legislative and administrative procedures of member states. The text of the Convention and subsequent resolutions and recommendations agreed by the Parties provide the framework for national implementation and international cooperation. The convention requires Parties to appoint Scientific and Management Authorities

Propagation at the

Desert Botanical Garden.

who are responsible for carrying out the provisions of the convention.

Unfortunately, implementation of CITES has been generally weak for plants, and some countries have largely ignored the requirements of the Convention for plants. Few countries have allocated the resources to determine appropriate levels of trade in wild plant species on a scientific basis prior to issuing export permits. In others administrative procedures have hindered legitimate trade in artificially propagated CITES plants alienating bona fide nurseries from the CITES process. The intent of the CITES convention can be lost in excessively bureaucratic licensing procedures, especially where these are not clearly explained to importers and exporters.

Table 2.5 lists the main countries involved in the import and export of cacti and other succulents and provides examples of reported problems in implementation of CITES controls for these plants.

Certain general problems with enforcement of the Convention for plants are being addressed, but relatively limited attention is given to these problems compared with enforcement for animals. One major problem is that of plant identification. Few enforcement agents have specialist botanical training and even with such training it can be very difficult to recognise species listed under the Convention or to distinguish between Appendix-I and Appendix-II listed succulents in the same genus. A greater problem is to distinguish between artificially propagated and wild-collected plants of the same species.

Some identification guides have been produced to help enforcement. The Italian Succulent Plant Society (AIAS) has produced an identification manual for Appendix I cacti, for example, with colour photographs. The Swiss CITES Management Authority has also produced a guide, and draft identification sheets for CITES-controlled plants have been produced by the US CITES Agencies. In the UK the CITES Guide to Plants in Trade has also been published (Mathew 1994).

EC CITES regulation

In EC countries, CITES controls are implemented by means of Council Regulation 3626/82, which came into force on 1 January 1984. This Regulation goes beyond the basic requirements of CITES by imposing the necessity for import, as well as export, permits for CITES Appendices II and III species brought into the Community.

As both a major consumer of wild plants for horticulture and a major producer of artificially propagated CITES species for export, it is important that the EC has effective means to implement the Convention. Inconsistencies remain in the enforcement, with some European countries operating very lax controls on the plant trade. There is a need for a coordinated CITES inspectorate within the EC.

In order to improve implementation, the EC CITES Regulation has been subject to extensive review and a revised version has been prepared. The future of the revised legislation remains unclear. It has been proposed that a significantly increased list of plant species will be subject to trade controls if and when the new EC legislation comes into force. A new provision of the legislation may also be to introduce a list of plants (and animals) for which import into the EC would be monitored only, without a specific requirement for export documentation. The intention is to build up a clearer picture of the quantities of listed species entering the Community to provide an early warning system of potential trade threats.

Monitoring the trade in CITES succulents

One of the major successes of CITES for succulent plants has been to compile information on the volumes of trade in Appendix II species, providing information which is not available from any other source. All Parties to the Convention are obliged to submit annual reports on trade in CITES-listed species to the CITES Secretariat.

Table 2.5

Main countries involved in cactus and succulent trade with some specific problems relating to control



Problems relating to control in trade of cacti and succulents


Import and export

Export of wild Appendix I species to Italy (Jenkins 1992). Confiscation of 49 kg of Mexican cacti in August 1993.


Import and Export

Mexican Appendix I cacti available in trade (Jenkins 1992).



Poor reporting of CITES plant trade. Collecting of rare plants by European enthusiasts.

Brazi 1


Under-reporting of the cactus trade. Export of large quantities of seed is damaging certain wild populations.


Import and Export

A major trader in Cactaceae; few details of the trade.



Wild-collected Copiapoa have been popular in European trade. Chilean plants exported via Peru.


Import and Export

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