Aztekium valdezii


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Aztekium valdezii is a rare cacti, endemic to a small area of 2 square kilometers in Mexico, Sierra Madre Oriental. Like Aztekium ritteri, it grows in north-facing vertical cliffs, very difficult to reach. Aztekium ritteri, however, is better conserved. Nowadays, only a few specimens of A. valdezii are still present in their natural habitat. The main threats are the erosion of the cliffs and illegal collecting, that lead to habitat reduction and to colonies becoming fewer in number.


Aztekium valdezii is a dwarf cacti of about 2 to 6 centimeter tall, highly sought after by collectors for its exteme rarity and odd shape. It is, in fact, star-shaped when viewed from above, and sometimes its ribs might follow a spiral-like pattern. The stem shape, overall, is spherical. It divided into 5 ribs, very pronounced and with rounded margin, and it has also a myriad of regular horizontal ribs reminding somehow an accordion. The diameter of the whole stem is also extremely small: 6 centimeters wide. The areoles, that are, we remind, the typical buds of the family Cactaceae, from which the spines are grown, are lined up on the crests of the ribs. In this species they are woolly, covered in a yellowish-white fluff, or extremely reduced and not hairy at all, depending on the specimen. Spines are also reduced and don’t look like the typical ones of regular cacti at all: they are papyraceous in consistency, flattened and twisted towards the top of the stem, 5-10 millimeters long. Flowers sprout at the top of the stem. They are not grouped in a regular inflorescence (meaning that they are borne each by a solitary petiole), but they grow in groups of three or two. They are funnel-shaped and have numerous petals, pink in the outer part and white in the inner part, velvety in consistency. The blooming season occurs in late spring to early Summer.


Aztekium valdezii is not the easiest species to grow. However, once a specimen is established on its own roots, it’s not difficult to manage. Here below are our tips:

Place it in a bright spot, though not exposed to direct light.
Keep the plant at tempereatures above 8-10ºC: we suggest to place it indoors in WInter, also to keep it away from water rainfalls.
Choose a specific substrate for cacti, well-draining and with an abundant mineral part.
Water regularly in Summer, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each irrigation. In Autumn, gradually decrease the watering frequency to completely suspend any irrigation in Winter.
Fertilize once a year during the growth season, by choosing a specific product for succulents, rich in Phosphorus and Potassium and poor in Nitrogen.
Aztekium valdezii is an extremely slow-growing species, thus it isn’t necessary to repot it too often. Choose deep pots to host properly the roots.


It is usually reproduced by seeds. Seeds are extremely small and germinate soon, but less than 5% of them are able to sprout. Also, the seedlings are very sensitive for the first two months. Rather, it’s more frequent to find them grafted to increase growth speed. You can also try to root the offsets from grafted plants, but the success rate is very low.


Aztekium is a small, newly discovered genus including only three species. It was discovered in 1929 by a botanist called Ritter. The first discovered species was Aztekium ritteri. For a while, it has been deemed to be the only species of the genus. The second species, Aztekium hintonii, was in fact discovered much later (only in 1991!), to reach the last species, Aztekium valdezii, in 2011. The species name, “valdezii”, was given after the biologist Mario Alberto Valdéz Marroquin who discovered the plant in the state of Nuevo Leon in 2012.

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