Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus)

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) at 1 1/6″ tall x 2″ wide after I brought it home from Wal-Mart on 12-2-20, #767-2.

Dwarf Chin Cactus, Spider Cactus

Gymnocalycium baldianum

jim-no-kal-LISS-ee-um  bald-ee-AY-mum


Synonyms of Gymnocalycium baldianum (12)(Updated 11-12-21 from Plants of the World Online): Echinocactus baldianus Speg., Echinocactus sanguiniflorus Werderm., Gymnocalycium baldianum var. albiflorum C.A.L.Bercht, Gymnocalycium baldianum var. raineri (H.Till) Milt, Gymnocalycium baldianum subsp. sanguiniflorum (Werderm.) C.A.L.Bercht, Gymnocalycium baldianum var. schreiteri (H.Till) Milt, Gymnocalycium marianae Perea, O.Ferrari, Las Peñas & R.Kiesling, Gymnocalycium raineri H.Till, Gymnocalycium rosae H.Till, Gymnocalycium sanguiniflorum (Werderm.) Werderm., Gymnocalycium schreiteri H.Till, Gymnocalycium venturianum Backeb.

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Speg.) Speg. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Gymnocalycium. It was named and described as such by Carlo Luigi (Carlos Luis) Spegazzini in Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina in 1925. It was previously named described as Echinocactus baldianus by Mr. Spegazzini in Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1905. The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) has more than 2,700 records for plant names of which Mr. Spegazzini is either the author, co-author, or involved in the basionym.

The genus, Gymnocalycium Pfeiff. ex Mittler, was first named and described by Louis (Ludwig) Karl Georg Pfeiffer but the name was not validated. Then Ludwig Mittler described the genus using Mr. Pfeiffer’s description, giving him credit, in Taschenbuch für Cactusliebhaber in 1844. 

As of 11-12-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 65 accepted species in the Gymnocalycium genus. It is a member of the Cactaceae Family with 146 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-3.

When I was at Wal-Mart on December 2 (2020) I decided to check out the “cactus corner”, as I call it, to see what was there. There wasn’t anything new since the last time I checked. I decided to have a closer look and picked out four cactus to bring home. The plants were grown by Rocket Farms in California and the labels just said “CACTUS”. After some research, I believe this cactus is Gymnocalycium baldianum commonly known as the Dwarf Chin Cactus. The plant was fairly small, only 1 1/6″ tall x 2″ wide, but it has fruit from a previous flower…

Gymnocalycium baldianum is a native of the Catamarca Province of Argentina where it grows at an elevation of around 1,640 to 6,500 feet (500 to 2000 meters) above sea level. The species grows a fairly restricted range, often in grassy areas. Collection and fire are the major threats.

Gymnocalycium species grow in areas where they receive shade from tall grass, small trees, and shrubs. SO, in captivity, they prefer light shade to shady areas where they receive 4-6 hours of sun. During the winter, if growing inside, they need bright indirect light. Do not sit their pots in front of a south-facing window or anywhere it will get direct sun.

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-4.

Cactus look really neat from the top and the Gymnocalycium baldianum is no exception… This species is rather small, growing to only 3-4″ tall x 3-5″ wide and can be grayish-brown to blue-green, sometimes almost bluish-black. They have 9-10 rather broad ribs with prominent tubercles divided by deep axils. The areoles on the end of the tubercles have a small tuft of wool and 5-7 very short, somewhat appressed,  radial spines. The apex of the plant is concave…

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-5.

Gymnocalycium baldianum is short, flattish to globose cactus with kind of a depressed apex. They are fairly small, only growing to around 3-4″ tall x 3-5″ wide. They have 9-12 ribs with interesting “chin-like” tubercles, the upper areoles being somewhat wooly. The areoles produce 5-7 small red-tinged pale gray to brown radial spines that are straight or appressed (toward the stem). The species is somewhat variable in color and can be dark bluish-green, grayish-brown, or even blue-black… Notice the flat, curved sides on the lower part of the tubercles creating kind of a groove. Almost looks like a bunch of open, smiling mouths.

Information suggests this species flower at a small size. You can see a fruit from a previous flower in the above photo. Flowers are usually purplish-red, but can also be pinkish-purple, white, pink or orange. The flowers are large for the size of the plant, being approximately 1 1/2″wide, and emerge from areoles toward the apex around the top of the plant. Information online says there are many hybrids with a wide range of flower colors…


Well, this plant died over the summer of 2021…

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Catamarca Province in Argentina
Zones: USDA Zones 8b-11 (15 to 40° F/-9.4 to +10° C)
Size: 3-4” tall x 3-5” wide
*Light: Light to PART SHADE outside others say sunny. Bright indirect light inside away from direct sun.
**Soil: Fast-draining. Good potting soil amended with pumice or additional perlite and chicken grit.
***Water: Should be watered regularly during the summer, but allow soil today between watering. This plant needs to be dry during the winter dormancy period.

*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. Since the Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) prefers less sun it will go on the front porch with most of the succulentsDuring the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. The succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom.

**I used 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 1 part additional perlite and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I started using a 50/50 mixture of Miracle Grow Potting Soil and pumice in 2018 with favorable results. I also use Schultz Potting Soil which has fewer chunks of bark. I purchased the pumice online from General Pumice but you can get smaller quantities on Ebay. The problem with Miracle Grow and other peat-based potting soil is that once it gets dry it doesn’t absorb water very well. So, during the winter months, the mixture can become hard. Sometimes I re-pot in the fall with a fresh mixture so the potting soil will be loose for the winter. The timed-release fertilizer in the potting soil won’t be activated until you water anyway. Pumice also has nutritional value. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommend not to use peat-based potting soil, but around here that is difficult to find. I haven’t tried coir yet… There is a lot of cactus and succulent recipes online and you just have to experiment to see what you and your cactus-like.

***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.

I have a Gymnocalycium saglionis (Giant Chin Cactus) in my collection that I brought home from Lowe’s on 3-29-19. I really like it and I am sure I will like this one, too. I will continue adding photos and information as time goes by.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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