The genus Mammillaria is one of the largest in the cactus family (Cactaceae), with currently 171 known species and varieties recognized. Most of the mammillarias are native to Mexico, but some come from the southwest USA, the Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras. The common name "pincushion cactus" refers to this and the closely related genus Escobaria.
Mammillaria mammillarias is a perennial plant that grows solitary or forming small groups. The stems are spherical to short cylindrical, light green to dark green and reach a diameter of up to 20 centimetres. The conical tubercules contain latex. The 3-5 reddish brown central spines have a darker tip and are 7-8 millimetres long. The top pin is the longest. The 10 to 16 radial spines are reddish brown and greyish in old age. Axils have scant wool. The flowers are cream-white, funnel-shaped and have a length of 1 to 1.2 centimetres. The club-shaped red fruits are 10 to 20 millimetres long and contain little brown, rough seeds. This species is distributed in the Lesser Antilles to Trinidad and Tobago, Curaçao and the neighbouring islands of the Netherlands Antilles and in Venezuela.
USDA Zone - 9
Season to sow - Spring
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