Mammillaria mystax

Mammillaria mystax after I bought it home on 9-21-18, #510-14.

Mammillaria mystax

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  MY-staks

Synonyms of Mammillaria mystax: Cactus funkii (Scheidw.) Kuntze, Cactus leucotrichus (Scheidw.) Kuntze, Cactus maschalacanthus (Monv. ex Labour.) Kuntze, Cactus mutabilis (Scheidw.) Kuntze, Cactus mystax (Mart.) Kuntze, Cactus xanthotrichus (Scheidw.) Kuntze, Mammillaria atroflorens Backeb., Mammillaria autumnalis A.Dietr., Mammillaria casoi Bravo, Mammillaria crispiseta R.T.Craig, Mammillaria erythra Repp., Mammillaria funkii Scheidw., Mammillaria huajuapensis Bravo, Mammillaria leucocarpa Scheidw. ex Salm-Dyck, Mammillaria leucotricha Scheidw., Mammillaria maschalacantha var. leucotricha (Scheidw.) Monv. ex Labour., Mammillaria maschalacantha var. xanthotricha (Scheidw.) Monv. ex Labour., Mammillaria meschalacantha Salm-Dyck, Mammillaria mixtecensis Bravo, Mammillaria mutabilis Scheidw., Mammillaria mutabilis var. leucocarpa Schelle, Mammillaria mutabilis var. leucotricha Schelle, Mammillaria mutabilis var. xanthotricha (Scheidw.) Salm-Dyck, Mammillaria senkii C.F.Först., Mammillaria xanthotricha Scheidw., Mammillaria xanthotricha var. laevior Salm-Dyck, Neomammillaria mystax (Mart.) Britton & Rose

Mammillaria mystax Mart. is the correct and accepted name for this species. It was named and described by Carl (Karl) Friedrich Philipp von Martius in Hortus Regius Monacensis in 1829.

The genus, Mammillaria Haw., was named and described by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum in 1812. According to Plants of the World Online by Kew, there are 162 accepted species in the Mammillaria genus as of when I am updating this page on 12-23-19. Those numbers are likely to change


Mammillaria mystax on 9-21-18, #510-15.

I bought this plant from Lowe’s on clearance on September 21, 2018. The Mammillaria mystax is another Owl’s Eye Cactus that divides dichotomically. The label says: 

“A globular cactus, usually solitary and growing to 6” height and sometimes to 8” in diameter. Spine color is highly variable with whitish wool and bristles at axils. Rings of reddish-violet flowers appear in April and May. Native of Oaxaca, Mexico. Protect from frost. Provide bright light/sun; hardy to 20° F. 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 1 3/4” tall x 2 1/4” wide without the spines.


Mammillaria mystax from the top on 9-21-18, #510-16.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: South Central Mexico
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20-40° F)
*Size: Different websites have different information.
Light: Sun to part shade
**Soil: Very well-draining. Potting soil amended with pumice or perlite and grit.
Water: Regular watering during the summer and barely to none during the winter.

*Information online says anywhere from 6-12″ tall.

**I used 2 parts Miracle Grow Potting soil amended with 1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit for many years. I had been reading where cactus and succulent enthusiasts use pumice so I started mixing 50% potting soil with 50% pumice.


Mammillaria mystax on 10-10-18, #519-48.

I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter on October 10 because the forecast was calling for an “F” in a few days and the nighttime temperatures were getting cooler. I usually measure the cactus and succulents when I bring them inside, but I didn’t measure this one because I measured it when I brought it home in September.


Mammillaria mystax on 11-29-18, #535-22.

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 mystax close-up on 12-1-18, #535-17.

Mammillaria mystax can have 3 to 10 radial spines and 1 to 4 central spines. Central spines are normally twice the length as radials, of which one is very long. Llifle says the tubercles are “full of milk which freely flows if pricked or cut.” Weird the description on llifle says “milk” instead of latex. Hmmm… Notice the “hair” between the tubercles… I think the hair is called trichomes.

Mammillaria mystax is a neat small cactus with very pronounced tubercles. In the wild, it produces very long entangled spines on its crown up to 2 1/2″ long. This species also divides dichotomically which means the stem divides to become two. It will produce a ring of rose flowers with brown mid-veins, up to 3 rows, February through April. The top areoles are wool-covered but seem to disappear with age.



Mammillaria mystax on 6-22-19, #593-31.

Once evening temperatures warmed up enough I moved the potted plants back outside for the summer. The cactus were moved to the back porch to receive full sun.

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


Mammillaria mystax at 2 1/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-67.

Next thing I knew 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 as I move them inside and measure the cactus and some of the succulents. The Mammillaria mystax measured 2 1/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide (without the spines). It measured 1 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″wide when I brought it home on 9-21-18.


Mammillaria mystax from the top on 10-11-19, #639-68.

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by. Be sure to click on the link to Llifle below for further reading.

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

There isn’t a whole lot of information online about the Mammillaria mystax but hopefully, someday there will be more.

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.