The Main Plant entry for Mammillarias (Mammillaria)

This database entry exists to show plant data and photos that apply generically to all Mammillarias.

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Cactus/Succulent
Life cycle: Perennial
Containers: Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: With thorns/spines/prickles/teeth

Common names
  • Mammillaria
  • Biznaguita

  • Posted by Baja_Costero (Baja California - Zone 11b) on Mar 21, 2022 10:20 PM concerning plant:
    One of the largest and most popular genera of cacti, known for flowering in profusion in crowns near the top of the plant. Generally well behaved in containers, provided excellent drainage, strong light, and discipline with the watering can. These are dry growing plants and they do not enjoy wet feet or low light.

    From North America and the Caribbean, just into South America. About 90% of the species are endemic to (found only in) Mexico, and a third of the species are endemic to a single state in Mexico. The two main hotspots are central Mexico and southern Baja California.

    A defining feature of this genus (which is not unique to it) is the presence of dimorphic areoles. The spines come out at the end of the tubercles, but the flowers, bristles, wool, and branches (if present) all come from the axils in between the tubercles. Another defining feature is that flowers do not appear at the apex (top center) but just below it, typically in a ring below recently produced tubercles. Several Mammillarias make edible fruit, though some are much better than others.

    This genus, which recently absorbed the monotypic genus Mammilloydia, is apparently sister to Cochemiea, a group of hooked-spine plants with distinctive red, zygomorphic flowers attracting hummingbirds. Until recently Cochemiea was lumped with Mammillaria. However a recent (2021) revision of these genera based on DNA analysis rearranged them significantly, moving almost all the plants with hooked spines into the resurrected Cochemiea and leaving the straight-spined plants in Mammillaria. These changes do not seem to be widely accepted yet. These genera are cousins of the mostly North American Coryphantha and Escobaria, which bear their flowers at the apex.

    Much more info here:
  • Posted by skopjecollection (SE europe(balkans) - Zone 6b) on Dec 14, 2019 1:58 PM concerning plant:
    One of the largest genera of cacti, mammillaria features mostly globular or short columnar species. The genus' main feature is having the stem consist of tubercles . The genus blooms from secondary areoles between the tubercles, which may also serve for branching purposes.
    Flowers are most often in shades of magenta, with some species having white, yellow or possessing stripes instead, with exceptions, of course. Certain species also have large flowers.
    Spines come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with hooked, central or radial only, pectinate or semi-pectinate, and can be grey, brown, red, yellow, black, white and combinations thereof.
    Some species possess taproots, some have hairs, some are capable of dichotomous splitting, some offshoot prolifically, others are solitary.
    The genus is also one of the most cultivated, with species like elongata Ladyfinger Cactus (Mammillaria elongata) ,vetula subsp gracilis Thimble Cactus (Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis)
    bocasana Powderpuff Cactus (Mammillaria bocasana 'Roseiflora') and prolifera Biznaga Prolifera (Mammillaria prolifera) often being among a grower's first plants.
  • Posted by Johannian (The Black Hills, SD - Zone 5a) on Jan 11, 2022 9:20 PM concerning plant:
    The genus name Mammillaria refers to the nipple-like projections on the stems. Similar species of Mammillaria and Coryphantha are distinguished by the position of the flower relative to the cluster of spines. In Coryphantha older nipples have a groove on the upper side. Both genera have some species with hooked spines.
Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
ID question by Baja_Costero Apr 10, 2020 2:18 PM 11
Not heyderii by skopjecollection Jul 14, 2021 9:01 PM 7
Generic entry by skopjecollection Jul 26, 2021 12:19 PM 4
ID question by Baja_Costero Jul 26, 2021 12:19 PM 8

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