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

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  de-SIP-ee-enz

Now listed as a synonym AGAIN…

Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha)

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

Synonyms of Mammillaria decipiens from Plants of the World Online: Cactus ancistrius Kuntze, Cactus decipiens (Scheidw.) Kuntze, Cactus guillemianus Kuntze, Chilita decipiens (Scheidw.) Orcutt, Dolichothele albescens (Tiegel) Backeb., Krainzia decipiens (Scheidw.) Doweld, Krainzia decipiens subsp. albescens (Tiegel) Doweld, Krainzia decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Dams) Doweld, Mammillaria albescens Tiegel, Mammillaria ancistria Walp., Mammillaria camptotricha Dams, Mammillaria decipiens subsp. albescens (Tiegel) D.R.Hunt, Mammillaria decipiens var. albescens (Tiegel) Repp., Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Dams) D.R.HuntNeomammillaria camptotricha (Dams) Britton & Rose, Neomammillaria decipiens (Scheidw.) Britton & Rose, Pseudomammillaria albescens (Tiegel) Buxb., Pseudomammillaria camptotricha (Dams) Buxb., Pseudomammillaria decipiens (Scheidw.) Buxb.


Mammillaria decipiens Scheidw. is 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 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 its 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.

The genus, Mammillaria Haw., was named and described by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum in 1812. Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists 162 accepted species in the Mammillaria genus (as of 11-18-19 when I am updating this page). That number could change.

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 pumice or perlite and chicken grit. 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.


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.

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 a good potting soil without peat… There are many “recipes” online and I suppose most cactus and succulent enthusiasts do a lot of experimenting. I have been using 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting Soil with 1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I can buy it in larger bags and it has timed-release fertilizer. I tried using other brands in the past but I didn’t like the results. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts do not recommend using peat-based products because. Most cactus collectors on the Facebook Group called Succulent Infatuation now recommend using pumice instead of perlite now. So, I ordered a bag of pumice from General Pumice.


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

I am running out of words so I am using what Llifle (Encyclopedia of Life) in BOLD


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

Origin and Habitat: San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Queretaro, Mexico. Eastern Mexico
Altitude: 1550 to 2150 metres above sea level.
Habitat: This species occurs in relatively low densities across its range, but is fairly common in appropriate habitat. It lives in canyons and on rocky hills, generally in volcanic soils. This species is often found in matorral under bushes in association with other plant species.


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

The flowers closed 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. 🙂



Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) on 6-8-19, #584-7.

When the temps warmed up enough in May I moved the potted plants outside for the summer. It is already flowering… I put the Mammillaria decipiens on the back porch in full sun… Ummm… The recommendation is light to part shade.


Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) on 6-12-19, #587-2.

Most of the other Mammillaria bloom after I move them back inside for the winter but this plant flowers in the summer.


Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) on 6-22-19, #593-26.

Description from Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms):

Description: Mammillaria decipiens (a.k.a. Bird’s Nest Mammillaria) is a low growing, prominently ‘nippled’ cactus species, with long, bristly spines that cross each other forming a sort of bird’s nest look (hence its common name).
Habit: Usually cespitose, sprouting unevenly from the base and sides, often forming large mounds.
Root: Very large, tuberose.
Stem: Individual stems, globose to club-shaped, rounded at the top, 6 to10 cm high, 4-7(-10) cm in diameter, grass green to deep green.
Tubercles: Soft, cylindrical to obtuse, 10-22 mm long 5-7 mm in diameter, their axils bearing or sparse wool and 3 fine bristles each. Without latex.
Radial spines: 5 to 11, spreading, 7-15 mm long or as long as 30 mm, bristle-like, straight, slender, white to brownish-white, sometimes yellowish with brown tips, puberulent when young.
Central spines: 1-2 rarely none, much longer than the radials, 10-27 mm long, straight, erect or ascending, slender, needle-like, bristly, dark brown.
Flowers: 15-18 mm, long, 10 mm across, broadly funnel-shaped, slightly scented; inner perianth-segments nearly white or faintly tinged with pink, acute; filaments white to pinkish; stigma-lobes 4, white or pinkish, slender, filiform. Flower-buds pinkish, acute.
Fruit: Cylindrical, reddish-green.
Seeds: Light brown.

Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) at 1 1/2″ tall x 4″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-56.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because an “F” was in the forecast. I always take photos of all the plants and measure the cactus and some of the succulents as I move them inside. The clump of Mammillaria decipiens measured 1 1/2″ tall x 4″ wide. Remember, it was only 3″ wide when I brought it home in March 2018. It did very well in full sun…


Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) on 10-11-19, #639-57.



Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha ?) on 10-19-19, #643-3.


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.

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

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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