Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Systematics, distribution and conservation of Cascabela (Apocynaceae: Rauvolfioideae: Plumerieae) in Mexico.

Abstract

Cascabela is a Neotropical genus of Apocynaceae with six species: C. balsaensis, C. gaumeri, C. ovata, C. pinifolia, C. thevetia and C. thevetioides. Its taxonomic history has long been a subject of controversy, especially due to its circumscription as a genus closely related to Thevetia. In this work, we revised the taxonomy of Cascabela for Mexico and provide detailed descriptions and illustrations. We also applied species distribution models and geographical information tools to evaluate chorological aspects of the six species occurring in Mexico and provide a conservation category. According to our results, Cascabela has a typical tropical distribution within Mexico, and the Balsas basin was identified as an area of diversity and endemism for the genus. The species C. ovata and C. thevetia have the broadest distribution ranges, and we assigned them the category of least concern. We suggest that the restricted, endemic species C. balsaensis, C. pinifolia and C. thevetioides be considered for protection. The genus was corroborated as an element of deciduous forest, and its cultural importance is highlighted.