Fall 2021 Cactus Update Part 2… From The Back Porch

Cactus on the back porch on 9-22-21, #833-2.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am doing fine for the most part… I am just less motivated this time of the year but there are things I need to get done.

Before I begin with this post, let me just say I don’t think I have a green thumb. I like a wide variety of plants that have different but similar requirements. Hmmm… I just confused myself. For the most part, the potted plants on the front porch need a shadier area, and the plants on the back porch prefer full sun. This year a few plants were under the roof on the back porch so they wouldn’t be in full sun and only received morning sun. Some of the plants on the front porch would probably like the back porch better. Maybe next year… We have to get through the winter first. 🙂

Linda, from The Task at Hand, commented on the last post concerning cactus getting wet in direct sunlight. I mentioned in the post what LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) said, but I will quote here what the website says about the cultivation and propagation on the Ferocactus wislizeni page: “Use very draining soil, water during the aestival growth cycle (this plant need plenty of water) But needs to be avoided wetting the bodies of these plants while they are in sunlight. A wet cactus in the sunlight can cause sun burning which can lead to scars or even fungal infections and death. Needs full sun. Keep dry at 10”… Normally, much more is written about cultivation and propagation so I think he didn’t get finished or something went wrong which is why the information stops “at 10”. 10 what? LLIFLE is a very reliable source of information but experience is always the best teacher.

Many cactus have specific requirements in nature which is why they grow in certain areas. I am sure in nature cactus get wet followed by sun which possibly leads to scarring, infection, and death for some species. Other species may not be affected by getting wet in full sun. Personally, I don’t water any of my plants when the sun is on them or if the night temperatures will be cool (especially for cactus and succulents). This can be tricky when it comes time to bring the plants inside for the winter. Last year it was fairly dry when I brought the plants inside, but it was the opposite this year. We had cool temps and it rained. I wasn’t worried about the plants on the front porch because they were under a roof. The cactus on the back porch were in the elements getting wet when temps were around 40° F… Many cactus have no issues with temps even below freezing when they are in the ground in their native habitat because they go dormant. Some species go dormant in the heat of the summer. Some grow way up in the mountains… But, my cactus are in pots and their ancestors grow in many different areas from forests to deserts from high to low elevations. It is a lot different in pots in west-central Missouri than in their native habitat…

Jim, from How I See It, in his comment asked a very good question… “Are plants like these abundant from their places of origin? Do you ever encounter plants that should not be traded on the plant market because they are endangered, etc?’ My reply was that I normally check the IUCN Red List about their status in nature. Many of the species in my collection are not endangered but some are for a variety of reasons. While some species have been collected to near extinction in the past, those species are illegal to collect in the wild now. Some species become endangered due to growing agricultural needs and their environment changes. Many species have been collected and relocated to save them. The plants in my collection come from commercial growers and are likely grown from seed. Even so, it bothers me when I have a species that are endangered in the wild due to overcollection. Upon further research, I found out the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre says trade is controlled to avoid use incompatible with species survival with every species of cactus in my collection…

There are many species that shouldn’t be available on the market for several reasons. One is because they have requirements the average person can’t fill and eventually die. I have noticed in the last few years commercial growers sell seed-grown plants to Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, etc. that are very small that really struggle to survive. Most of the very small plants I have bought in the past few years, like in 2” pots, from Wal-Mart and from Ebay have died.

If you missed the previous post, Fall 2021 Cactus Update Part 1, is about the cactus on the back porch up to the Mammillaria. You can click on the plant’s name to go to their own pages for more information about the species and see all their photos.

Mammillaria decipiens (syn. subsp. camptotricha) (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) at 2″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-12.

The Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha) (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) did GREAT over the summer. The tallest plant in the cluster measured 2″ tall and the group expanded to 4 1/2″ wide. To think it was only 1 1/2″tall x 3″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on March 19 in 2018… It is really hard to tell, but I believe we have a few new offsets. There were five plants in the cluster when I brought it home and I think there are 12 now. I really like this species… This species has 19 synonyms and has been in 8 genera. Ummm… The subspecies name is a synonym…

The IUCN Red Lists says this species is stable in its natural habitat. Mammillaria decipiens are native to San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, and Queretaro in Mexico where they grow at an altitude between around 5,085 to almost 8,000 feet above sea level (1550-2150 meters).

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Mammillaria elongata (Ladyfinger Cactus) on 10-28-21, #853-13.

The Mammillaria elongata (Ladyfinger Cactus) continues to go bananas. The longest stem in the center of the pot broke in half over the winter then died. Now the longer stems measure from 3 to 3 3/4″ long. I counted 39 stems and offsets and some are very tiny. There are even offsets growing along some of the taller stems. Hmmm… I should have taken a photo from a different angle but I was in a hurry. There was one stem with 11 offsets when I brought this plant home from Wal-Mart in 2018.

The IUCN Red List indicates this species in declining in its native habitat due to agriculture, aquaculture, industry, and mining.

LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) says this may be the most common Mammillaria to be found. It occurs in more variations than any other Mammillaria species. It commonly comes in many color and spine variations. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 52 synonyms and has been in six genera.

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Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) at 3 3/4″ tall x 3 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-14.

As always, the Mammillaria hahniana did very well over the summer and grew to about 3 3/4″ tall x 3 3/4″ wide. It looks a little strange because it had rained so its wool was wet. This plant was only 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. I have really enjoyed this plant.

The two unlabeled cactus I brought home from Wal-Mart last December 2, that turned out to be different looking Mammillaria hahniana, died over the summer. In fact, all four cactus I brought home that day died… They were all very small…

The IUCN Red List says Mammillaria hahniana is of least concern in its native habitat.

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Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) at 4″ tall x 35/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-15.

The Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) did really well over the summer and grew to 4″ tall x 3 5/8″ wide. It didn’t especially like being photographed with wet wool since it had been sprinkling. I explained it was very important and I would take another photo of it when it starts blooming. It normally starts flowering up a storm shortly after I bring the plants inside. This plant has grown quite a bit from 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/16 when I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21 in 2018.

It is one of a few Mammillaria species in my collection that are dichotomous branching. That means it will split to form two plants.

Mammillaria karwinskiana (syn. subsp. nejapensis) (Silver Arrows) from the top on 10-28-21, #853-16.

I really like this plant and the way its wool weaves through its tubercles.

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable in its native habitat in Central and Southwest Mexico and Guatemala.

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Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) at 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-17.

The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) did very well over the summer and grew to 4 3/4″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide. It was 3 3/4″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide when I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21 in 2019. This one is also dichotomous branching. I really like this cactus with its blue-green color and long golden spines. Its shape reminds me of a light bulb…

Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) from the top on 10-28-21, #853-18.

It has a few more buds to become flowers I will miss AGAIN. This plant was LOADED with buds that were ready to open on June 24. I checked every day to get a photo of its flowers and the next thing I knew the buds had turned to faded flowers. It has had buds multiple times but I have never seen them open…

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable in its native habitat in Guanajuato, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí in Mexico. It lists no threats.

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Mammillaria mystax at 3 1/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-19.

The Mammillaria mystax is a very well-behaved cactus that has no issues. It grew to 3 1/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide over the summer and was 1 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ when I brought it home from Lowes on September 21 in 2018. It has very sharp reddish-brown tipped spines.

The Mammillaria mystax is a pretty straightforward plant with very prominent 4-6 angled tubercles. In the wild, it produces very long, entangled spines on its crown but that seldom happens in cultivation. This species divides dichotomously as well as possibly producing offsets. It will produce a ring of rose flowers with brown mid-veins in up to 3 rows which hasn’t happened yet…

The IUCN Red List says this species population is stable in its native habitat in South Central Mexico.

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Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) at 1 3/4″ tall x 4 3/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-20.

The Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) may look a little strange in the above photo because its “plumage” was kind of wet from the rain. It did very well over the summer and the largest plant in the cluster grew to 1 3/4″ tall. The entire cluster measured 4 3/8″ wide. It was 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide when I received it from a seller on Ebay on September 22 in 2019. I still have to smile when I look at the photo when it arrived all wrapped up in toilet paper. I must say, it has done great and was one of my better buys on Ebay. You would be amazed at how many cactus and succulents are listed.

The IUCN Red List states the population is declining and near threatened in its native habitat in Coahuila and Nuevo León in Mexico where it grows on limestone cliffs in sparse xerophytic shrubland. This species is illegally collected for the ornamental trade. The local community in the area also collects plants from the wild and sells them at local markets at Christmas time, as they are used to decorate nativity scenes.

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Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) at 6 1/2′ tall x 2 5/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-21.

The Mammillaria pringlei Lemon Ball Cactus) did very well again over the summer and grew to 6 1/2″ tall x 2 5/8″ wide. It has leaned over the summer AGAIN so I need to re-pot it and straighten it up. Many species of cactus are leaners and this one does it more than any other in my collection… This time the pot won’t stand up on its own. GEEZ! The Mammillaria pringlei is one of the most abundant bloomers I have. It produces a lot of flowers in multiple rows.

Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) on 10-28-21, #853-22.

Blooming again and it appears there is a fruit… Hmmm… A while back I received a comment from a reader who said she had purchased a Mammillaria karwinskiana in the spring and in the last month was producing magenta seed pods. She hadn’t seen any flowers and was wondering could there really be that much of a delay. Well, of course, I sent her a lengthy reply. 🙂 I told her I rarely see any fruit on my cactus, which is true because they need two plants of the same species to pollinate. Usually, I only see fruit on my cactus within a few months after I bring them home if they have been pollinated where they were grown. Mammillaria pringlei, on the other hand, has produced fruit several times and I don’t quite understand why… It could possibly be pollinated from the M. rhodantha since was formerly M. rhodantha subsp. pringlei… It is still considered a part of the Mammillaria rhodantha complex…

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Mammillaria pringlei as vulnerable in its natural habitat. This is due to its restricted range, being present in only three areas. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) states it has experienced declines due to the collection of its flowers and even whole plants for Christmas decorations. Apparently, at one point this species was not found in any of the protected areas.

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Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion) at 4 1/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-23.

Who wouldn’t like the Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion)? Those reddish spines would get anyone’s attention. This plant has always done well and grew to 4 1/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide over the summer. It has been a slower grower compared to the Mammillaria pringlei. It was 3 3/4″ tall when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. That measurement likely includes the spines…

“This one” blooms kind of strange… Sometimes it has an abundance of buds but only a few of the flowers will open. Then there will be holes where the old buds were.

Mammillaria rhodantha is a VERY variable species which has led to it having a whopping 132 synonyms. Thirty-five of the synonyms are forms, subspecies, or varieties of M. rhodantha

Mammillaria pringlei and M. rhodantha are also both species that divide dichotomously and also produce offsets.

The IUCN Red List says this species is stable and of least concern in its native habitat. It is a native of high-table lands in Queretaro, Michoacán, Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Hidalgo in Mexico where it grows in fertile soil.

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Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) (Thimble Cactus) at 1 7/8″ tall on 10-28-21, #853-25.

This Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) (Thimble Cactus) amuses me. I had one before in a good-sized pot that I gave up in 2014. When I went to Lowe’s to find a new one in 2018, I brought home the ‘Arizona Snowcap’. A few days later, I found this very small plant at Wagler’s Greenhouse with a few offsets along its stem.  I didn’t realize it was a Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis at the time because it wasn’t growing like the one I had previously and it only had one stem… When you find them at a garden center they are usually in a cluster.

The original stem grew a little taller over the summer and was 1 7/8″ tall when the above photo was taken. The offsets that grew on the main stem are still attached from last year. Before that, most of them fell off. I should take a photo from the top so you can see how many offsets there are in this little pot. It needs repotting anyway because I noticed the pot is broken… I have had those pots since 2009 so they are bound to be a little brittle. The plant was in too large of a pot when I brought it home so I put it n a smaller one. It kept leaning over so I put the marble next to it to hold it up. Now it thinks the marble belongs to him (or her).

Even though Mammillaria vetula is the accepted name of the species, it is most often labeled Mammillaria gracilis fragilis at garden centers. It has 24 synonyms including Mammillaria gracilis, M. fragilis, M. gracilis var. fragilis, M. vetula subsp. gracilis, and so on.

What sets this “subspecies” apart from the species is that it usually has no central spines where M. vetula has 1 or two. The species has at least 25 radial spines (up to 50 on mature specimens) where the subspecies only has 11-16. Mine has no central spines…

The IUCN Red List says the species is stable and of least concern in its natural habitat in Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and Querétaro in Mexico where they are found in pine forests at high altitudes.

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Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ at 2 1/4″ tall on 10-28-21, #853-24.

The Mammillaria vetula (syn. subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ (Thimble Cactus) did well over the summer of 2021 and the largest plant in the cluster grew to 2 1/4″ tall… I brought this cactus home from Lowe’s on July 8 in 2018 when the cluster measured 2″ tall x 5″ wide. The pot was bulging and the spines seemed much thicker and more white than the “regular” Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis. The pot was labeled Mammillaria gracilis fragilis monstrose so I did some research. As it turns out, this plant was a monstrous form of Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis, likely a nursery-produced cultivar and possibly a hybrid, named ‘Arizona Snowcap’. Over the winter I took a couple of photos and a few of the offsets in the pot were nearly solid white and looked like little snowballs. Those plants died… In fact, half of the offsets died. I re-potted what was left and the rest have done pretty well.

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Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Ball Cactus), Lessor (left) at 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide, Greater (right) at 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-26.

The two Parodia lenninghausii (Golden Ball Cactus, ETC.) made it through the summer quite well. Lessor, on the left in the above photo grew to 6 1/2″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide. Greater, on the right, grew to 6 1/8″ tall and is the same width as last year at 2 3/8″ wide. Last year they had the same measurements… These two characters have grown quite a lit since I brought them home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. It was an accident that I brought two home, like usual when I bring two of the same species home, but I am glad I did. Watching these two side by side has been entertaining. Lessor was only 1 7/8″ tall x 1 3/4″ wide when I brought it home and somehow I didn’t measure Greater, which was taller. Last October they were the same size at 6″ tall x 2 3/8′ wide.

They are supposed to produce bright yellow flowers but I read they may need to be 10 years old… Five more years to go. GEEZ!

Parodia lenninghausii the Lessor’s offsets on 10-28-21, #853-27.

One of Lessor’s kids grew quite a bit over the summer…

The IUCN Red List doesn’t say anything about this species, but LLIFLE says they are abundant in their native habitat in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil but many subpopulations have been extirpated… The species grows at elevations between about 985 to 4,265 feet (300-1300 meters) in hilly grasslands and in the shade of larger plants where they tolerate a wide range of temperatures.

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Parodia magnifica at 2 1/2″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-28.

The Parodia magnifica (Ball or Balloon Cactus) is a neat species that reminds me of the crown for Imperial Margarine. I did very well over the summer and still measured 2 1/2″ tall but it grew to 3 1/4″ wide. It was 1 3/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide when I brought it home from Lowe’s on March 29 in 2019.

Parodia magnifica is a native to Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil and are also found nearby in Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. The IUCN Red List has them listed as an endangered species. They grow on hilly grasslands and on walls between cracks in rocks or in the shade of larger growing plants in deciduous forests. In this climate, they experience warm and cool seasons and grow in soil with plenty of organic matter from the decomposition of other plants. It is said Parodia magnifica can survive temps as low as 20° F if their soil is dry and they are not subject to frost.

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Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost) at 6 3/8″ tall x 3 1/8″ wide on 10-28-21, #853-29.

I think the Stenocereus pruinosus (Gray Ghost or Organ Pipe Cactus) is a magnificent plant. It always does great over the summer and grew to 6 3/8″ tall x 3 1/8″ wide. It was 2 7/8″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1 in 2016. It stayed 2 3/4″ wide until this year (except it was 3″ wide in 2019). It has been a great all-around plant. The label said they grow to 20′ in time, but reliable sources say 13-16’…

The IUCN Red List says the population of Stenocereus pruinosus is stable and of least concern in its native habitat in Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Veracruz in Mexico. They grow at 2,600 to 6,200 feet (800 to 1,900 meters) above sea level where they can be found in tropical deciduous forests. They are known for their edible fruit.

Well, that is it for the cactus that were on the back porch and their pages have been updated…

I will go back to updating the pages to the right. It is sometimes hard to decide what to write about over the winter but I may do a wildflower series. Not that they are blooming now… 🙂 If you have any suggestions, I would like to hear them.

Until next time, take care, stay positive, and always be thankful!

Four New Cactus, Two New Species

New cactus from Wal-Mart after I brought them home on December 2 (2020). I identified the plant on the right front as Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus), and the one in the rear on the right as Mammillaria nivosa (Wooly Nipple Cactus). The two on the left… Mammillaria ?.

Hello Everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I went to Wal-Mart on December 2 to do a little shopping but mainly because I needed more saucers to go under pots. A lot of the old ones had gotten worn out plus I needed a few more. While I was in the plant department I decided to check out the “cactus corner” where they keep the cactus and succulents. As usual, they were over watered and otherwise neglected. Anyway, I found four that I decided to bring home.

I knew one was a Gymnocalycium and the other three were Mammillaria species. The label on the side of the pots…

The labels were mostly uninformative and basically just said “CACTUS” with a little growing information. Labels like that don’t give you much to go by. Even if there was an outdated name it would have been much better. The grower is the same as the last plants I bought at Lowe’s. Finding their correct names is a lot more difficult especially when it comes to Mammillaria… They were in 3 1/2″ pots, though, and all had plenty of room to grow.

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) at 1 1/6″ tall x 2″ wide on 12-2-20, #767-2.

The Gymnocalycium was fairly easy to identify because I already have a G. saglionis (Giant Chin Cactus) that I had brought home from Lowe’s in March of 2019. It is a great plant, so bringing this one home was a no-brainer. With only 61 species to choose from in the genus, it wasn’t that difficult to figure out this plant was a Gymnocalycium baldianum commonly known as the Dwarf Chin Cactus. It is very small at only 1 1/6″ tall x 2″ wide.

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Speg.) Speg. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Gymnocalycium. It was named and described as such by Carlo Luigi (Carlos Luis) Spegazzini in Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina in 1925. It was previously named described as Echinocactus baldianus by Mr. Spegazzini in Anales del Museo Nacional de Buenos Aires in 1905. The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) has more than 2,700 records for plant names of which Mr. Spegazzini is either the author, co-author, or involved in the basionym.

The Dwarf Chin Cactus is a native of the Catamarca Province of Argentina where it grows in a fairly restricted range. Its major threats are collection and fires.

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-3.

This species is rather small, growing to only 3-4″ tall x 3-5″ wide, and can be grayish-brown to blue-green, sometimes almost bluish-black. They have 9-10 rather broad ribs with prominent tubercles divided by deep axils. The areoles on the end of the tubercles have a small tuft of wool and 5-7 very short, somewhat recurved,  radial spines. It looks like there is a smile between each tubercle… There is a name for that but I forgot what it… I read about that as a distinguishing feature of another species. 🙂

Gymnocalycium baldianum (Dwarf Chin Cactus) on 12-2-20, #767-4.

The apex of the plant is concave or “sunk-in” which is a pretty neat feature of most cactus. As plants grow, they just kind of unfold. Always constantly moving, but every so SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWWLLLLYYYY…

Gymnocalycium baldianum has received the Royal Botanical Society’s Award of Garden Merit. 

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

The second plant that was fairly easy to identify was the Mammillaria nivosa whose common name is Wooly Nipple Cactus. It was easy to identify because I put photos on a Facebook Group and a member told me what it was. I didn’t feel like going through Mammillaria photos to figure it out. Most of the photos show their flowers and not the plant itself… This plant is 1 3/4″ tall x 2″ wide and can grow up to 10″ tall.

This species is fairly unique because of where it is native. While most cactus are native of Mexico through South America, this one is found on several islands in the Caribbean. Its native habitats are declining due to urbanization and tourism but it is also found on Mona Island which is a protected nature reserve.

Mammillaria nivosa Link ex Pfeiff. is the correct and 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 his name and description giving Mr.Link the credit.

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

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.

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

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…

NOW FOR THE OTHER TWO PERPLEXING PLANTS…

One of the members on the Facebook group suggested the other two were Mammillaria hahniana. My thoughts and reply were, “I already have a Mammillaria hahniana and it looks nothing like these two.” I posted a photo of my Mammillaria hahniana and received several “likes”. No one else had any other suggestions so after a few days I posted photos on three other Facebook groups. NOTHING. I was pretty surprised no one had any other suggestions. That never happens! SO, I revisited my Mammillaria hahniana page and went to the description on Lifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms). There were also quite a few photos online that sort of revealed my screw up… Mammillaria hahniana is A “VARIABLE” species. OH, I had already sent photos to Daiv Freeman of the CactiGuide explaining the ordeal and I received no reply from him either. That also never happens. It was like his silence was telling me I had it already figured it out. GEEZ! The reality of having brought home two more Mammillaria hahniana was setting in… The goal is to collect more species not more of the same… You can clearly understand how that can happen when there are “variables” involved. All three plants are completely different… After thinking about it, I was OK with having three Mammillaria hahniana, since they show the variations of the species. I named them Unos, Dos, and Tres. 🙂

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #2 (Dos) at 1 3/4″ tall x 2″ wide on 12-2-20, # 767-6.

The first one in question, Dos,  is sort of club-shaped and a darker green. It measured 1 3/4″ tall x 2″ wide and is very hairy…

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #3 (Tres) at 1 1/8T tall x 2″wide on 12-2-20, # 767-10.

Tres is shorter than Dos at 1 1/8″ tall but it is also 2″ in diameter. When I measure cactus I ignore the spines and focus on the body (stem) of the plant. Tres is kind of squat and globe-shaped like a pumpkin. It is kind of more bluish-green in color which can throw you off a little… The Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii in my collection is a bluish-green and AWESOME!

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #2 (Dos) on 12-2-20, # 767-7.

From the above close-up of Dos, you can see hairs, wool, and spines. There is just a little speck of wool growing from the axils between the tubercles. Some of the “hair” is also coming from the axils but you have to get a magnifying glass to tell. The areoles on the tip of the tubercles have 1-4 very short central spines and 20-30 hair-like radial spines… Some are very short and others VERY LONG. Information on Llifle says these hair-like spines can be from 5-15 mm long which is just over 1/4″ to just over 1/2″. Some of the longer hairs on this plant are nearly 1″ long which I think are coming from the axils. Dos has more of a flat top similar to Unos…

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #2 (Dos) on 12-2-20, # 767-8.

The apex of Dos (#2) is clearly concaved with a lot of wool in the center. The areoles also have more wool around the top of the plant but seem to disappear somewhat farther down the stem (as the plant grows).

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #3 (Tres) on 12-2-20, # 767-11.

Tres has A LOT more and larger tufts of wool in its axils, especially around the top, and its hair is not as long.

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) #3 (Tres) on 12-2-20, # 767-12.

From the top, Tres looks A LOT different than Dos. The concaved apex is barely visible from all the wool. The hair-like radial spines and axil hair give Tres a cobwebby appearance.

The Mammillaria hahniana trio. Unos in the back, Dos on the right, and Tres on the left on 12-5-20, #768-1.

Once I came to the conclusion that it was definitely possible the two new Mammillaria were M. hahniana, I took all three plants to the back porch for a photoshoot. I brought Unos home from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016, when it was just 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/8″ wide. On October 15 (2020) when I moved the plants inside it measured 3 5/8″ tall x 3 5/8″ wide.

Mammillaria hahniana Unos, Dos, and Tres from the top on 12-5-20, #768-2.

From the top view, Unos, Dos, and Tres look nothing alike. You can certainly tell how someone would think they are three different species. Am I sure they are all three Mammillaria hahniana? NOPE! Unfortunately, the description of Mammillaria hahniana fit all three. Umm, the two smaller ones more than Unos. Unos has transformed into a massive ball of wool!

Click on Mammillaria hahniana to view “their” page…

The next post will be short, but I have a big surprise coming in the mail very soon…

Until next time, stay well, be safe, stay positive. Always count your blessings and give thanks. You are unique and special. If you can and are able, go outside and get dirty!

 

Fall 2020 Update Part 5: The Mammillaria Group

Part of the cactus collection in front of the sliding door in the dining room on 11-1-20, #754-6.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. This post is about the Mammillaria species in my small collection of cactus. Mammillaria species come in all shapes and sizes and are very easy to grow and some flower off and on throughout the year. I took most of the photos in this post on October 15 as I was bringing the plants inside, but I had to take a few more on November 1 and 6… The longer it takes to finish this post the more photos I will probably take because of the flowers…

Plants of the World Online currently lists 164 species in the Mammillaria genus, which is up two from my last update. Although The Plant List is no longer maintained, even though it is still online and viewable, listed 185 accepted species, 93 accepted infraspecific names (varieties and subspecies), a total of 519 synonyms, and 448 unresolved names. So many species were given a multiple of scientific names over the years and it was quite an undertaking to resolve the issue. It will no doubt be a continual work in progress, even as new species are added. The Mammillaria genus alone has 20 synonyms… That is 20 previous genera whose species have been transferred to Mammillaria or attempts made to relocate them.

So, why do I like Mammillaria species? For one, there are a lot to choose from, they are easy to grow, they come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, many freely flower, and some are just downright weird. All Mammillaria have one particular thing in common that makes them stand out. They have pronounced tubercles arranged in a particular manner, kind of looks like they are spiraling upward… If you have a cactus with pronounced tubercles, it is very likely a Mammillaria.

If you want further information about any of the Mammillaria in this post, or to see more photos, click on their name under the photos in green. That will take you to their own page.

Here we go…

<<<<Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha)>>>>

Mammillaria decipiens (subsp. camptotricha)(Bird’s Nest Pincushion) at 1 3/4″ tall x 4 1/4″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-64.

I brought this AWESOME Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha (Bird’s Nest Pincushion) home from Wal-Mart in March 2018 because it was weird and I didn’t have one. It has done very well over the summer and the tallest plant in the pot was 1 3/4″ tall and the cluster measured 4 1/4″ wide on October 15. Like all cactus, they swell and shrink as water is available. I watered the cactus the day before I brought them inside because I thought they would swell somewhat before I took measurements. Apparently, I should have done it several days before that… Sunday, as I was taking photos of few of the Mammillaria with flowers, I noticed the biggest one in this pot looked bigger than before. SO, I went and got the tape measure and it was 2″ tall! GEEZ! That’s 1/4″ taller than it was on the 15th!

That isn’t the first time that happened. When I was writing the post Cactus Talk & Update… OUCH! in December 2018 several had done that. They hadn’t been watered since October but they were swelled up.

Getting back to the Mammillaria decipiens… It was cramped up in a 2 3/4″ diameter pot when I brought it home and the cluster of plants was 1 1/2″ tall x 3″ wide. The pot was literally bulging and the plants were hanging out over the top somewhat.

After doing a little research, I found out this cactus was a subspecies called Mammillaria decipiens subsp. camptotricha. The species has 5-11 radial spines per tubercle that are a whitish color and the spines are shorter. The subspecies have 4-5 radial spines per tubercle that are longer and bristly… Describes the one I brought home perfectly. BUT, “those in charge” have decided the subspecies is a synonym of the species. HOWEVER… Since the subspecies name was validly published in 1997, I can go ahead and use it if I choose. 🙂

This species got around A LOT and has 19 synonyms covering seven genera…

<<<<Mammillaria elongata>>>>

Mammillaria elongata (Ladyfinger Cactus) at 6 1/8″ long/tall x 7″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-66.

Hmmm… As you can tell, the Mammillaria elongata (Lady Finger Cactus) is doing well. This has been an interesting cactus and I have had no issues with it. We got off to a rocky start but that was my fault. This plant, or cluster of plants, was stuffed into a small pot which I accidentally knocked off on the floor a few days after I brought it home in March 2018. Of course, most of the offsets fell off. I stuck them back in the small pot the best I could at the time. It had no side effects and didn’t even get upset. To say this species freely offsets would be an understatement. Even the kids have kids…

On October 15 when I brought the plants inside, the longest or tallest, umm… The main stem in the center, the mother plant, measured 6 1/8″ long, or tall, whichever you prefer. The entire cluster was 7″ wide. After I remeasured the Mammillaris decipiens I wondered about this plant. In fact, last year it was over an inch longer in November than it was in October, up to 7 3/8″! This time it is 6 1/8″ long??? I remeasured it again when I was putting the measurements on the journal and it definitely was 6 1/8″. So, for the heck of it, I remeasured it AGAIN as I am writing this post. Hmmm… 7 3/4″!!! Believe it or not, I do know how to use a tape measure and I am not going to fall for this Mammillaria conspiracy. They did this to me last year…

<<<<Mammillaria hahniana>>>>

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) at 3 5/8″ tall x 3 3/8″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-67.

Several Mammillaria species have a lot of wool like the Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus). I have had this cactus as a companion since I brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016. It was only 1 7/8″ tall x 23/8″ wide when I brought it home now it is 3 5/8″ tall x 3 3/8″ wide. NO, I am not going to measure it again to make sure…

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) on 10-15-20, #747-68.

The Mammillaria hahniana is quite a bloomer and may surprise you anytime throughout the year. Most Mammillaria species are sort of concave at their apex and their spines just kind of unfold as they grow. Mammillaria hahniana is sort of flat-topped and you can clearly see how concave it is in the center. This species is rather globe-shaped when young but can become more columnar with age. Over time they can form good-sized colonies but I don’t think they divide dichotomously.

Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) on 11-6-20, #755-1.

I had to take the above photo on November 6 because it has more buds. It will continue growing more, maybe in 2-3 rows. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) lists several subspecies and varieties of Mammillaria hahniana but none are currently accepted even though they were once validly published. They all have certain peculiarities in the quantity and size of spines (central and/or radial), wool, flower color, etc. One even has white flowers. While it may be true they are the same species, these characteristics set them apart so I personally think the intraspecific names should be used to distinguish them from one another. When young, they might look very similar, but these different “features” become more pronounced with age.

<<<<Mammillaria karwinskiana>>>>

Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) at 3 5/8 tall x 3″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-69.

The Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) is a great little cactus that has gotten more wooly since I brought it home from Lowe’s on 9-21-18. It was 1 7/8″ tall x 2 3/16″ wide when I brought it home and now it is 3 5/8″ tall x 3″ wide. If you find this plant at Lowe’s or Wal-Mart it is likely to be labeled Mammillaria nejapensis which is a synonym. In fact, this species has 60 synonyms!!! Ummm… There were only 45 the last time I updated its page last December. GEEZ!!! Where did they all come from? OH, I know… POWO has been uploading a lot of names from the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) they didn’t have in their database. Maybe that’s why…

Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) with lots of wool for the winter on 7-15-20, #747-70.

The tufts of wool on the Mammillaria karwinskiana reminds me of tiny rabbit’s feet (you know, the rabbit’s foot keychains).

Mammillaria karwinskiana (Silver Arrows) with flowers on 11-1-20, #754-2.

It started flowering more shortly after I brought it inside. I am glad its flowers aren’t pink… Maybe this one is a guy.

<<<<Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii>>>>

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

I really like this Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii (Golden Pincushion) with its club-shape. I brought it home from Lowe’s when it was 3 1/4″ tall x 2 1/8″ wide in September of 2018. It had fallen over on the discount rack and was completely out of its pot. I picked it up and looked at it, put it back in its pot, then put it in my cart. There was barely any soil left because it had fallen out and onto the floor. This plant likely would have been thrown out and I certainly couldn’t let that happen… I liked its shape, its silver-bluish-green color, and the combination of very long and short spines. Sounded like a win-win for both of us so I bought it home.

The label said it was a Mammillaria celsiana but that species has been determined to be a synonym of Mammillaria muehlenpfordtii. This is one of several Mammillaria I now have in my small collection that divides dichotomously. That means the plant itself becomes two, then two becomes four, and so on. Well, the information says they do that when they “mature” which I have no idea when that will be. 🙂 Until they divide, they are said to be a solitary species. It doesn’t seem to mind its neighbors, though. They are always teasing the cats, trying to get them to jump on their table…

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

Information I have read says this is a summer bloomer but it is flowering now like it did last October. If it bloomed in the summer I missed it. Some Mammillaria flower just about anytime during the year. I told him “guys aren’t supposed to like pink.” He replied, “Who said I am a guy?” GEEZ! Some Mammillaria species are a bit of a smart aleck…

<<<<Mammillaria mystax>>>>

Mammillaria mystax at 2 3/4″ tall x 2 3/4: wide on 10-15-20. #747-73.

The Mammillaria mystax is a very neat and tidy cactus that hails from central and southwest Mexico. Ummm… There is still no common name given for this cactus. It has done very well since I brought it home from Lowe’s on September 21, 2018. It has grown from 1 3/4″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide to 2 3/4″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide. Even in nature, this species only grows to 6-8″ tall.

I think it is odd how the central spines close to the top are longer than the central spines farther down. Do they shrink as the plant grows or does it grow longer spines as it matures? I am learning that some species of Mammillaria change quite a bit as they age which led to many subspecies and variety names. I know, I know… I am repeating myself. Mammillaria have a tendency to make one talk to themself.

Mammillaria mystax has 28 synonyms now. The featured image on Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) for Mammillaria mystax shows a cactus that was formerly Mammillaria casoi with long, entangled spines… Supposedly, this species is highly variable. Hmmm… I don’t get it but I guess I don’t have to understand to be confused. 🙂

Mammillaria mystax from the top on 10-15-20, #747-74.

Hmmm… Still, no sign of flowers or buds but it is still a neat plant. Look at those spines! I like it because it is such a neat little ball of thorns plus I have to find out what this one will do as it matures…

<<<<Mammillaria plumosa>>>> 

Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) at 1 3/8″ tall x 3 1/4″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-75.

The Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) is quite a neat clump of fuzz. I bought this cactus from an Ebay seller in September 2018 and I will never forget how it arrived. It was like a little ball all wrapped up in toilet paper. The cluster was only 2 1/4″ wide and the largest plant, the big one in the middle, was only 3/4″ tall. It has done quite well and now the biggest plant is 1 3/8″ tall and the cluster is 3 1/4″ wide. Or at least it was on October 15. It is a VERY slow spreader and I think I can barely see two very tiny offsets starting to peak through.

Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) on 11-6-20, #755-3.

I took a couple more photos of the Mammillaria plumosa to show its flowers.

Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus) on 11-6-20, #755-4.

This hole has been here for a while and I think it is where a flower was last year. Maybe I need to comb it. 🙂

If you ever get a chance to get one of these, I think you will like it. Check on Ebay.

<<<<Mammillaria pringlei>>>>

Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) at 5 3/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-76.

The Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) is the third oldest Mammillaria in my collection. I brought it home from Lowe’s on April 24, 2017, but apparently, I didn’t measure it until October 17 when I moved the plants inside for the winter. At that time, it measured 4 1/2″ tall x 3 1/2″ with the spines. Since 2018, I always measure the cactus body and ignore the spines he best I can. Anyway, this cactus always does well and on October 15 it measured 5 3/4″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide. Hmmm… That is the same width as last year BUT I am not going to remeasure it now because I have a sneaky suspicion it will be different. I don’t want to get caught up in remeasuring the Mammillaria again, even though I am curious… Maybe I can do it when they are sleeping so they won’t say, “AH HA! I knew you couldn’t resist.” 🙂

Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) from the top on 10-15-20, #747-77.

Mammillaria pringlei is quite a bloomer. It flowers off and on during the summer but really puts on a show in the fall.

Mammillaria pringlei is one of the only species of Mammillaria with yellow spines. They look more white in the photo because of the light.

Mammillaria pringlei (Lemon Ball Cactus) on 11-1-20, #754-3.

I took another photo of the Mammillaria pringlei on November 1. I just had to do it. She asked, “where is your tape measure? Hiding in your pocket?”

This species was once considered a subspecies of Mammillaria rhodantha (next one on the list) then included in the Mammillaria rhodantha Group…

<<<<Mammillaria rhodantha>>>>

Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion) at 4 1/4″ tall x 2 5/8″ wide on 10-15-20, #747-78.

Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion) is quite a cactus! Its reddish spines make it a very attractive show-stopper. This was one of my first cactus from Wal-Mart when I started rebuilding my collection of plants in 2016. Until then, I previously had quite a few succulents but not that many cactus. I realized that many succulents I had in Mississippi where I had five sunrooms did not like the low light during the winter here. SO, when I started collecting plants again I went for more cactus because they can handle low light during the winter. I didn’t measure the Mammillaria rhodantha when I first brought it home from Wal-Mart on February 1, 2016, but it was 3 3/4″ tall x 3″ wide (including the spines) on October 17. On October 15 when I brought the plants inside it measured 4 1/4″ tall x 2 5/8″ wide. Hmmm… That is a little shorter than last October when it measured 4 1/2″ tall. Like I mentioned, that is probably because I watered the cactus the day before and they hadn’t “swelled” yet. Even in the wild, Mammillaria rhodantha only grows from 6-12″ tall, so it likely grows fairly SSSSLLLLOOOOWWWW.

The species is variable and some Mammillaria rhodantha have yellowish or whitish spines.

Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion) from the top on 10-15-20, #747-79.

The Mammillaria rhodantha typically flowers from spring through fall, but this one didn’t flower well until last year. It seemed to be loaded with buds at times but they never grew or opened. Other species in my collection start flowering in one spot then kind of go around the circle. This one will produce buds but the flowers open without a system.

My last update of this species own page was in November 2019 when Plants of the World Online listed 115 synonyms of Mammillaria rhodantha. Now there are 132!!!  78 species are other Mammillaria that were decided were actually Mammillaria rhodantha. There are 35 varieties, subspecies, or forms of Mammillaria rhodantha named that were once valid accepted names. An additional 54 are from when some of those infraspecific names were species in other genera as well as Mammillaria, some fairly recent and some very old names. That doesn’t include names that were not validly published… Mammillaria pringlei was also once considered a subspecies of Mammillaria rhodantha, and apparently, there are variants of it with yellow and whitish spines… Hard to explain it, but there are, or were, six other genera that many species of Mammillaria were in at one point. Heck, most of the older named species in any genera of cactus started out in the genus simply called Cactus

<<<<Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis)>>>>

Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) at 1 3/8″ tall on 10-15-20, #747-82.

The Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) (Thimble Cactus) is hanging in there to be a good parent. Some of its kids stayed attached better the past summer and the ones that fell off are taking root. This is “one of those” you have to handle with care but not because of its spines. The offsets fall off very easily which is why one of its past scientific names, “fragilis”,  was very appropriate. I had a fairly large pot of this one before, but I hadn’t really been to Lowe’s or Wal-Mart that much to find another one. When I did go to Lowe’s and was looking for one like before, I choose the “Arizona Snowcap’ (below) instead. Then when I went to Wagler’s Greenhouse to take plants in September 2019, I noticed a very small cactus with a few tiny offsets sticking out of it. I looked at it and realized it was a Mammillaria but it didn’t quite look familiar. Well, I brought it home and it turned out to definitely be a Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis. I was always used to seeing them available in clusters not as a single specimen. It did perfectly fine over the winter and the next summer and grew quite a bit, well, the offsets did. By the time I moved the plants inside for the winter, most of its offsets had fallen off. Then it was a little plant AGAIN! Fortunately, as I said, most of the offsets it grew since then have managed to stay attached. It measures only about 2″ tall which is pretty good considering… Umm… Considering it was 2″ tall last October. 🙂 Actually, to be honest, it was only 1 1/2″ tall on October 15 but I did measure it again a few days later and it had swelled to ALMOST 2″. 🙂 🙂

Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) with a flower and several buds on 11-6-20, #755-6.

I had to get another shot of this plant on November 6 because it was waving its flower at me. It wants me to also tell you about the marble in its pot. After I brought it home from Wagler’s it kept growing toward the light and almost fell over SO, I put the marble next to it to hold it up. I was going to take it out of the pot, but apparently, it got so attached to the marble it wanted me to leave it. I guess it is like a pet rock or maybe it is afraid it will need it again…

Plants of the World Online lists Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis as a synonym of Mammillaria vetula (1832) even though there are differences. One difference is that Mammillaria vetula has 1-2 central spines and 25 radial spines. The subspecies does NOT have central spines. I choose to continue to use the subspecies name because it was validly published and accepted in 1997. It replaced the name Mammillaria gracilis (1838). The industry still sells this plant as Mammillaria gracilis var. fragilis which was named and accepted in 1929.

<<<<Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’>>>>

Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ at 1 1/2″ tall on 10-15-20, #747-80.

The Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ did great over the past summer and now, FINALLY, is looking like this cultivar is supposed to again. When I found this cluster at Lowe’s on July 18, 2018 it was a 2″ tall x 5″ wide cluster of balls hanging over the sides of a 3 1/2″ diameter pot. The reason I chose this cultivar over the regular Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis was because many of the balls were covered with thick, white spines and I hadn’t seen any like it before. Well, it was just flat neat! I brought it home and took photos. Of course, I put the cluster in a larger pot. Over the next summer, 2019, the plants that were more white died off!  After I moved the plants inside for the winter I removed the dead plants and kind of spruced up the pot a little.

Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ on 10-15-20, #747-81.

Fortunately, over the summer, the cluster is looking GREAT! As you can see in the above photo, one of the plants has a circle of buds.

Mammillaria vetula (subsp. gracilis) ‘Arizona Snowcap’ on 11-6-20, #755-5.

I took another photo on November 6 after most of the flowers had opened. It is really neat to see such a small plant have a circle of flowers.

According to LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms), this cultivar is a monstrous form, or mutation, of Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis that is not found in the wild. They say it is of garden or nursery origin and perhaps a hybrid…

Well, that’s it for the Mammillaria update and it only took about three days to finish. Seems like a week! 🙂 I can get the remaining 10 cactus and succulents in the next post.

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful! I hope you are all doing well…