Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple Cactus)

Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple Cactus) at 1 3/4″ tall x 2″ wide after I brought it home on 12-2-20, #767-13.

Wooly Nipple Cactus, Nipple Cactus

Mammillaria nivosa

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  niv-OH-suh

Synonyms of Mammillaria nivosa (9) (Updated on 12-10-22 from Plants of the World Online): Cactus flavescens DC. (1813), Cactus nivosus (Link ex Pfeiff.) Kuntze (1891), Cactus stramineus Spreng. (1825), Coryphantha nivosa (Link ex Pfeiff.) Britton (1915), Mammillaria flavescens (DC.) Haw. (1819), Mammillaria flavescens var. nivosa (Link ex Pfeiff.) Backeb. (1961), Mammillaria straminea Haw. (1819), Mammillaria tortolensis Pfeiff. (1837), Neomammillaria nivosa (Link ex Pfeiff.) Britton & Rose (1923)

Mammillaria nivosa Link ex Pfeiff. is the accepted scientific name for the Wooly Nipple Cactus. It was named and described as such by Louis (Ludwig) Karl Georg Pfeiffer in Enumeratio Diagnostica Cactearum hucusque Cognitarum in 1837. It had previously been named and described by Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link but his description wasn’t validly published. Mr. Pfeiffer then used the name and description giving Mr.Link the credit.

The genus, Mammillaria Haw., was named and described as such by Adrian Hardy Haworth in Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum in 1812.

As of 12-10-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 139 species in the Mammillaria genus (there were 154 the last update on 11-12-21). It is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 139 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-14.

I brought this Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple Cactus) home from Walmart on December 2 (2020). It measured 1 3/4” tall x 2” wide and was in a 3 1/2” diameter x 3 1/4” tall pot. The label just said “CACTUS” with no other name. The label also said the grower was Rocket Farms from Half Moon Bay, California. 

Mammillaria nivosa is a native of several islands in the Caribbean where its populations have declined because of urban development and tourism. Several of the islands have many tourist resorts. It is also present on Mona Island which is a protected nature reserve.

Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-15.

The Mammillaria nivosa is a very interesting and colorful cactus that will make a great addition to my small cactus and succulent collection. I had 13 different Mammillaria when I was writing this page and over 60 cactus and succulents total. In the wild, Mammillaria nivosa can be found as solitary plants, but usually grows in colonies and readily offsets to form a small mat. Plants are dark green but turn a bronze color in more sun. Plants are globe-shaped and cylindrical with obtusely conical and laterally compressed tubercles.

Its tubercles have wooly areoles that usually produce one central spine and 6-13 radial spines. The spines are bright yellow to dark brown and are approximately 1 1/2″ long, point away from the stem, and are VERY stiff and sharp. There is ample wool in the axils between the tubercles as well. This plant does well in sunny to partly shady areas, but bright light is supposed to bring out the bronze color, encourage flowering, and heavy wool and spine production…


Well, this neat little cactus died over the summer of 2021…

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Several islands in the Caribbean
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F/-3.8 to 4.5°C)
Size: Up to about 10” tall, usually freely offsets
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Very fast-draining. 1 part of a good quality potting soil amended with an additional 1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit or a 50/50 mixture of potting soil and pumice.
Water: Regular watering during the growing season and very little, if any, during the winter. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cacti 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 cacti 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. There isn’t that much online about it at the moment…


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