Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Syn. M. celsiana)-Golden Pincushion

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii after I brought it home on 9-21-18, #510-10.

Golden Pincushion

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii

mam-mil-ar-ee-uh  mew-len-?-?


Mammillaria celsiana

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  SELS-ee-ay-nuh

Synonyms of Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (20)(last updated on 12-12-20): Cactus celsianus (Lem.) Kuntze, Cactus lanifer (Haw.) Kuntze, Cactus muehlenpfordtii (C.F.Först.) Kuntze, Cactus polycephalus (Muehlenpf.) Kuntze, Cactus schaeferi (Fennel) Kuntze, Mammillaria celsiana Lem., Mammillaria lanifera Haw., Mammillaria neopotosina R.T.Craig, Mammillaria neopotosina var. brevispina R.T.Craig, Mammillaria neopotosina var. hexispina F.Schmoll ex R.T.Craig, Mammillaria neopotosina var. longispina R.T.Craig, Mammillaria perringii Hildm. ex K.Schum., Mammillaria polycephala Muehlenpf., Mammillaria schaeferi Fennel, Mammillaria schaeferi var. longispina J.N.Haage, Neomammillaria celsiana (Lem.) Britton & Ros, Neomammillaria muehlenpfordtii (C.F.Först.) Y.Itô, Neomammillaria muehlenpfordtii var. brevispina(R.T.Craig) Y.Itô, Neomammillaria muehlenpfordtii var. hexispina (F.Schmoll ex R.T.Craig) Y.Itô, Neomammillaria muehlenpfordtii var. longispina(R.T.Craig) Y.Itô

This cactus was labeled Mammillaria celsiana but that name is a synonym of Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii C.F.Först. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Mammillaria. It was named and described by Carl Friedrich Förster in Allgemeine Gartenzeitung in 1847.

The synonym, Mammillaria celsiana Lem. was named and described by Charles Antoine Lemaire in Cactearum Genera Nova Speciesque Novae in 1839.

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 lists 164 accepted species in the genus. Mammillaria is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 144 genera (as of 12-12-20 when I am updating this page). Those numbers could change as updates are made.


Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 9-21-18, #510-12.

I bought this plant from Lowe’s on clearance on September 21, 2018. It was laying on the shelf, out of its pot with very little soil on its roots or in the pot. I picked up and looked at it and decided to give it a good home. It has kind of an interesting club-shape. The label says: 

“Mammillaria celsiana, native of Mexico (San Louis Potosi northwest to Oaxaca), is a globular cactus. Golden radial spines with long gold centrals and white woolly areoles. Rings of small carmine flowers in the spring. Protect from frost. Provide bright light; hardy to 35° F; to 7” tall. Water thoroughly when soil is dry.”

The plant was growing in a 4 oz. (2 1/2” diameter x 2 1/4” tall) pot. The plant measured approximately 3 1/4” tall x 2 1/8” wide without the spines. Since it is somewhat taller, I re-potted it into a wider pot to keep it from falling over.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 9-21-18, #510-11.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii is a native of Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí in Mexico where it grows from around 5,600 to 7,900 (1700-2400 meters) above sea level. 

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii is considered a globular cactus that is kind of “club-shaped” (at least mine is). It can be bluish-green, gray-green, or dark green in color. As plants age, the lower portion turns kind of a grayish color (at least with mine).

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii from the top on 9-21-18, #510-13.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii is one of the few Mammillaria species that divide dichotomously where its stem divides to become two plants. This process repeats allowing it to form good-sized mounds.

The multitude of tubercles are arranged in a spiral pattern, as with all Mammillaria, but this species tubercles do not contain latex

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 11-29-18, #534-20.

November 29 was a nice spring-like day, so I took the cactus to the back porch for a photoshoot. I was working on a post to show the difference between the cactus in my collection.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii scarred for life. Photo taken on 11-29-18, #534-21.

Sometimes when the “strawflowers” are hot glued to the cactus spines is comes off fairly easily. I have had several plants, like this one, where the glue is put on in a big glob and is stuck tight to the “skin”. I can’t see any selling point the growers are trying to make because anyone can clearly see the flowers are fake. This plant, like several others in my collection, is scarred for life. I always snip off the fake petals down to the glue, if possible, and give a gentle pull to see if the glue will come off easily. If not, I just leave it alone hoping time will allow it to come off. This plant was already scarred when I brought it home.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii close-up on 12-1-18, #535-16.

The multitude of tubercles are arranged in a spiral pattern, as with all Mammillaria, but this species tubercles do not contain latex. 

The areoles on top of the tubercles around the top of the plant and at the apex have a small amount of wool but disappear as the plant grows. 

The areoles produce 24-50 very small radial spines that overlap and cover the body of the plant. The lower part of the stem is narrower than the top, on my plant, and is massively covered with radial spines.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii usually produces 4 yellowish central spines that stick out like a nervous porcupine. The lower spine, supposedly, is MUCH longer, but I can barely tell that there is more than one. The central spines, at least the longest one, kind of angles downward.


Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 6-22-19, #593-30.

Once the temperatures warmed up enough I put the potted plants outside for the summer. The cactus were enjoying the sun when I took the above photo on June 22.

I was fairly busy during the summer so I didn’t take as many photos as usual. Despite a little neglect, they all did very well.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii at 3 3/4″ tall x 2 7/8″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-64.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 11 because there was an “F” in the forecast. I always take photos of the potted plants when I bring them inside and measure the cactus and some of the succulents. The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii measured 3 3/4″ tall x 2 7/8″ wide. It was 3 1/4″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide when I brought it home on September 21, 2018.

There were a few very tiny buds on this cactus when I brought it inside for the winter.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii from the top on 10-13-19, #641-2.

The top view is always interesting on cactus…

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 10-19-19, #643-6.

The buds were getting larger when I took this photo on October 19. Then I didn’t take photos of flowers after they opened for some reason…


Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) on at 4 1/8″ tall x 3″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-71.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photographs and measurements. The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii did very well over the summer and measured 4 1/8″ tall x 3″ wide.

As you can tell in the above photo, the lower part of this plant is kind of a grayish color and MASSIVELY covered with radial spines. They are so thick I can’t tell if the plant is a different color, or if is the spines that make it appear a different color.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) from the top on 10-15-20, #747-72.

It is beginning to flower AGAIN. For some reason, I always seem to miss taking photos of its flowers!!! Hmmm… In fact, I have never seen its flowers open


Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-2.

I couldn’t handle it any more! Seeing the Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii leaning over was driving me NUTS! I know maybe “most” people re-pot in the spring, but I kind of like re-potting my cactus and succulents in the fall and winter. You know how it is. They have been outside during the summer getting rain and a little extra water and their soil is OK. Then you bring them inside for the winter and stop watering and their potting soil gets as hard as a brick. That is likely due to them being in potting soil that is predominantly peat. It dries out and contracts and gets very hard. So, I prefer re-potting in the fall and winter so their potting soil is loose while they are inside and not getting any water.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-3.

Being that Mr. Muehlenpfordtii is a very spiny cactus, I have to be very careful and wear leather gloves.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-4.

It is always a good time to look the plant over when you re-pot to make sure it isn’t getting weird somewhere. Hmmm… The lower part of this cactus is getting gray. The radial spines are so thick!

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-5.

The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii has a good root system. I have to handle it with care and just kind of let it rest in my hand rather than holding it so I won’t damage the spines.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-6.

I remove as much of the old, hard, dry potting soil as I can without breaking too many roots. It is more or less dormant during the winter so it will grow new roots when it gets ready.

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii on 12-15-20, #771-7.

There it is in its new pot. It was in a 4″ diameter x 3″ tall pot and the new one is 4 1/2″ diameter x 4″ tall. Depending on the cactus, increasing the diameter of the pot by 1/2-1″ is plenty. Before I was using 1/8″ pumice but this time I am using 1/4″. I mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. Now we will see how it likes that. 🙂

As with all Mammillaria species, this one is easy to grow. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) has a lot of useful information (see link below). It does mention that this species is rot prone so it must not be overwatered. Water thoroughly when the soil is dry and be sure to let it dry between watering. Keep it dry in the winter.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Guanajuato, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25-40° F)
Size: About 4-6” or more tall x 2 3/4-6” diameter.
*Light: Sun to part shade.
**Soil: Very well-draining soil. Potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Average water needs during the summer, but do not overwater. Allow soil to dry between watering. Keep it dry during the winter months.

*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During 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 but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.

**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it… 

I think a lot of growing tips online are written by people who never grew succulents and cactus. They just copy from one website and paste it to theirs. You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil

***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 really like the Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii and enjoy having it as a companion. 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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