Mammillaria decipiens-Bird’s Nest Pincushion

Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) after I brought it home on 3-19-18, #418-9.

Bird’s Nest Pincushion

Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  de-SIP-ee-enz  kamp-toh-TRY-cha


Mammillaria decipiens

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  de-SIP-ee-enz

Mammillaria decipiens Scheidw. is now the correct and accepted scientific name for this cactus. It was named and described by Michael Joseph François Scheidweiler in Bulletins de l’Académie Royale des Sciences et Belles in 1839.

There are a subspecies of Mammillaria decipiens that are now synonyms of the species. The Mammillaria decipiens in my collection “is” Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Dams) D.R.Hunt. It was named and described by Davis Richard Hunt in Mammillaria Postscripts in 1997. Hopefully, someday the botanists in charge of what names are accepted will recognize more infraspecific names (forms, subspecies, and varieties), which properly distinguish plant ID’s with different characteristics from the species. That’s why they were given different names in the first place (except for the species that were named more than once by different people)…

According to “people who know” anyone can use whatever name they choose as long as it description was validly published. Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Dams) D.R.Hunt is a validly published name, so since this is my blog, I am choosing to stick with that name. I believe someday it will once again be an accepted infraspecific name of the species.

This cactus is native to San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Queretaro, Mexico and Eastern Mexico.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) on 3-21-18, #419-12.

I bought this cactus from Wal-Mart on 3-19-18. It is very interesting cactus. It’s like the main plant with maybe 5 smaller ones growing on one side. The cluster measures 1 1/2” tall x 3” wide. It has completely filled this 2 3/4” diameter x 2 1/4” tall pot, which is bulging. It has long white radial spines that grow sideways from the tubercles and brown central spines that stick out like stiff hair. Cactus that have protruding tubercles like this one are often called nipple cactus. OUCH!

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, and Queretaro, Mexico. Eastern Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Light: Light to part shade
Soil: Fast-draining. Potting soil amended with additional grit and pumice or perlite. Sources say to avoid the use of peat or other humus sources. GEEZ!
Water: Average during the summer, barely in winter.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 3-21-18, #419-10.

Information online says this cactus is a freely clustering species that builds up into a dense cluster of stems. It also says they do better than most species in lower levels of light but still prefers bright light or morning sun.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha  5-17-18, #443-59.

Once warmer temperatures came I moved the plants back outside. I had put the Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha in a larger pot earlier since the sides were bulging.

Preferred soil for cactus can sometimes be hard to understand. Llifle says this species “likes very porous mineral substratum and avoid the use of peat or other humus sources in the potting mixture.” GEEZ! What is that supposed to mean? Try finding potting soil without peat… My cactus potting mix consists of 2 parts potting soil amended with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part perlite. Most cactus collectors now recommend using pumice instead of perlite now, which isn’t available at any of the local garden centers.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha with buds on 6-24-18, #463-5.

I was happy to see buds on the Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on June 24. I was even happier when I saw they weren’t going to be pink. 🙂


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 6-28-18, #465-13.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha  6-28-18, #465-14.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 6-28-18, #465-15.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 6-28-18, #465-16.

The flowers close up in the late afternoon/early evening and kind of look like little tulips.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 7-30-18, #488-14.

The Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha has certainly been strutting its stuff with all the flowers. I am glad the flowers aren’t pink…


Mammillaria decipens subsp. camptotricha on 10-10-18, #519-44.

I measured the cactus and succulents when I brought my potted plants inside for the winter on October 10. I always measure my cactus at least once a year. The cluster of Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha measured 1 5/8″ tall x 3 3/4″ wide. It was 1 1/2” tall x 3” wide when I brought it home on March 19.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha on 11-29-18, #534-16.

November 29 was a very nice spring-like day so I took the cactus outside for a photo shoot. I was making a post about the differences between the cactus species in my collection.


Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha close-up on 12-1-18, #535-11.

Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha has very prominent tubercles and long spines which cover the entire plant (on more mature specimens). The species and other subspecies do not have these long radial spines, and this one in particular usually lack central spines. As you can clearly see, my plant has long radial spines with no central spines, and, nice nipples. Sorry, I mean tubercles. 🙂

Since I just bought this cactus I don’t have any experience to share. The Llifle website (see link below) has a lot of useful information if you would like to know more. I will continue adding more 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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