Family: Cactaceae
Habitat: Deserts and Atlantic areas of North America: eastern Canada, southeastern United States, Mexico.
Cultivation: Escobaria requires a well-drained soil, occasional watering especially in winter, plenty of light. They show a good resistance to cold: a few species native to tough climates can even withstand temperatures of -20°C.
Curiosity: The name Escobaria is due to the two brothers Romolo and Numa Pompilio Escobar, the two botanists who, at the beginning of 1900, discovered and classified many Escobarias.


The genus Escobaria includes about 25 species of cacti with different origins and features. A few species are from northern Mexico, as well as others that come from the arid but cold areas of Canada.

They are small, globular or cylindrical cacti, with their surface covered in tubercles from which spines of different shapes and colours (often white) sprout. The spines are so dense and intricate that the stem is barely visible: it can be bright or pale green depending on the species. Unlike the majority of cacti, Escobaria’s stem is not divided into ribs.

Due to their small size they are particularly popular within collectors seeking small, elegant plants.

Flowers appear in spring and summer from the top of the plant and can be of different colours: often yellowish, sometimes purple, pink, red or green depending on the species. They are funnel-shaped and can be very decorative, depending on the species. Their fruit are, instead, almost always red.

Suckers easily develop from the base of the Escobaria: the plant therefore takes on a bushy appearance over time.


As we already mentioned, the genus Escobaria includes about 25 species. Many of them have also subspecies and varieties.

Until 1978 the name of the genus was Neobesseya. Before 1923, however, Neobesseya was not even considered a separate genus and the various species that today make up the genus were included in the genus Mammillaria. The main thing that Escobarias and Mammillarias have in common are the tubercles. That, together with their numerous thorns, is the reason why these two genus share the same common name: “pincushion cactus”.

To this day the classification of some varieties is not universally accepted. Anyway, plants with the name “Escobaria” can be still found on the market.

Here below are a few species of Escobaria. Check our online store to find some of them!

  • E. abdita
  • E. aguirreana
  • E. albicolumnaria
  • E. bella
  • E. chaffeyi
  • E. chihuahuensis
  • E. cubensis
  • E. dasyacantha
  • E. dasyacantha v. chaffeyi
  • E. dasyacantha v. duncanii
  • E. duncanii
  • E. emskoetteriana
  • E. gigantea
  • E. guadalupensis
  • E. hesteri
  • E. laredoi
  • E. leei
  • E. lloydii
  • E. minima
  • E. missouriensis
  • E. missouriensis v. caespitosa
  • E. missouriensis v. marstonii
  • E. muehlbaueriana
  • E. nellieae
  • E. orcuttii
  • E. orcuttii v. macraxina
  • E. robbinsorum
  • E. roseana
  • E. runyonii
  • E. sandbergii
  • E. sneedi


Escobaria is not more difficult to manage than other cacti. The small size also reduces the necessity of repotting and some species, native to northern regions, show an exceptional resistance to cold. The main danger, as always, is root rot.

Here is our advices:

  • The required exposure tends to be in a very bright position, as long as it is sheltered from sunlight during the hottest hours of the day;
  • Regarding the optimal temperatures for your Escobaria, it is difficult to give a general indication as it depend on the species. As a general rule the minimum tolerated temperature is 5-6°C, but some species can reach -7°C (E. minima) or even -20°C (E. missouriensis and E. vivipara)! In these cases it is essential for the soil to be perfectly dry.
  • Water once every 7 to 10 days or so during the growing season and reduce progressively in autumn, stopping completely in Winter.
  • A well-draining, porous soil is the best choice for your Escobaria. A standard soil for cacti usually provides these characteristics.
  • Escobarias remain small and you won’t need to repot often.
    To propagate these plants you can either use seeds or a cutting obtained from a sucker, which sprout abundantly from the base of the plant.

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