Lemon Ball Cactus
Mammillaria rhodantha subsp. pringlei
mam-mil-AR-ee-uh rho-dan-the PRING-lee-eye
Cactus pringlei J.M.Coult.
Neomammillaria pringlei (J.M. Coult.) Britton & Rose
Mammillaria pringlei (J.M.Coult.) K.Brandegee is the accepted and correct name of this species of Mammillaria. It was named and described by Mary Katherine Brandegee in Zoe in 1900. It was first named and described as Cactus pringlei by John Merle Coulter in Contributions from the United States National Herbarium (Smithsonian Institution) in 1894.
Although Plants of the World Online says the correct and accepted scientific name for this plant is Mammillaria pringlei, other databases and websites include it as a subspecies of Mammillaria rhodantha. Either name can be used as long as it was a validly published name since there are no “rules” to say which name has to be used. It could be also that their websites and databases aren’t up-to-date. Just stick around and eventually it will change (maybe). For now, I am sticking with Mammillaria pringlei because I am beginning to tire of changing captions and “I think” Plants of the World Online is the most up-to-date database.
The synonym, Mammillaria rhodantha subsp. pringlei J.M.Coult.) D.R.Hunt is a validly published infraspecific name of Mammillaria rhodantha that some websites are using. It was named and described by David Richard Hunt in Mammillaria Postscripts in 1997.
I bought this cactus from Lowe’s on April 24, 2017. The label says:
“Mammillaria pringlei, native to Mexico, is sometimes considered a subspecies of Mammillaria rhodantha. The stem is covered in dense, golden spines, sometimes curling to lengths of 1” or more. Rings of deep flowers appear in summer. Protect from frost.”
Isn’t it neat how many cactus species flowers grow in a circle around the top of the plant? The flowers are actually produced on the previous years growth.
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F)
Light: Sun to part shade
*Soil: Fast-draining. Potting soil amended with grit and pumice or perlite.
Water: Average during the growing period, barely to none during the winter.
This depends on the potting soil you start with. Some potting soil brands already have a lot of perlite. You could even use half potting soil with half pumice as the pumice can also take the place of the grit.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species list Mammillaria pringlei, or whatever its name is, as vulnerable in its natural habitat. This is due to its restricted range, being present in only three areas. Information states it has experienced declines because of the collection of its flowers and even whole plants for Christmas decorations. Apparently, this species is not found in any of the protected areas.
Temps were starting to get cooler and would soon be time to bring the potted plants inside for the winter.
I measure the cacti periodically to see their rate of growth. Some grow so SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW you need to measure them to make sure they are alive. Well, seriously, if they were dead they would turn brown and shrivel up. When I moved the plants inside for the winter, this cactus measured 4 1/2″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide and it is in a 3 1/2″ tall and wide pot. I measured it when I bought it, but somehow I can’t find where I wrote it down… I will find it someday.
Cactus and succulents are not hard to grow if you follow a few basic rules. I have a page called Cactus & Succulent Tips you can check out if you like.
I put this cactus on the kitchen windowsill for the winter with a few others. It gets morning sun and is doing very well there.
This species is one of many fast growing cactus. Many, like this one, freely flower even at a young age which just adds more interest. I am not sure how many there are, but the top is LOADED with buds. It is so funny how long it takes for them to actually flower, though.
When warmer temperatures finally arrived I was able to take the plants back outside. (Ignore the plant to the right).
On June 24, in the late afternoon, I noticed the buds on the Mammillaria pringlei were getting larger…
Then on June 28, I was out earlier and some of the flowers were opened.
It is very interesting how its flowers are arranged in a circle around the top of the plant. The flowers grow from the previous years growth
Later on, in the early evening, the flowers were closed up. They kind of look like tiny tulips.
Some cactus seem to be “leaners” no matter what. I straighten this plant up every time I re-pot it…
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. This time the Mammillaria pringlei was 4 7/8″ tall x 2″ wide (without the spines). Last year I screwed up and included the spines when I took measurements. So, with the spines least year it was 4 1/2″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide.
November 29 was a nice spring-like day, so I took the cactus to the back porch for a photo shoot. I was working on a post to show the difference between the cactus in my collection.
Mammillaria pringlei is one of only a few species that have glowing golden spines. It has 18-22 radial spines and 5-7 central spines that are somewhat re-curved. Information says it is generally a solitary ball cactus that eventually divides dichotomously.
On October 10 when I re-potted this cactus and measured it, I wrote down that it was 4 7/8 ” tall x 2″ wide (without the spines). As I was writing this on November 9, I was thinking it was bigger so I went to measure it again. This time it is 5 3/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide (without the spines). So, did it grow 7/8″ in a month while inside? Last year I screwed up and included the spines in their measurements so out of curiosity I measured it with the spines. Including the spines, it is currently 6 1/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide. Last year it was 4 1/2″ tall and 3 1/2″ wide with the spines… GEEZ! That is 1 5/8″ taller and the same width.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by. Be sure to check out the links below for additional information about the genus, species and growing information. The links take you directly to information about the genus and species. There are many online sources for this species as it is very popular.
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