Mammillaria melanocentra


Mammillaria melanocentra var. typica
Neomammillaria melanocentra


Mammillaria melanocentra is native to Mexico Northeast where the plant grows on steep cliffs walls and in large flat areas in shrub lands. This cactus can spread up to 1800 m of altitude.


Mammillaria melanocentra is a common cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. This species is quite similar to the M. carmanae. The cactus has a solitary habit when young and can reach up to 18 cm in height and 15 cm in diameter. The stem is globose to spherical, dark green in color, made of prominent, nipple-shaped to pyramidal tubercles arranged in 8-13 spirals. At the top of the tubercles are located the areoles. The areoles are small, white and woolly and bear the spines. The solitary central spine is stout, curved upwards, 2 cm long and black to brownish in color. The 6-9 radial spines are up to 20 cm long, thin, straight and white to brownish in color. Blooming occurs from the early spring to the late summer and blossom are borne at the apex of the stem in a ring, forming a crown of flowers. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale pink to magenta with red-bordeaux central stripe on the petals and with yellow stamens at the center of the tube. The fruits are club-shaped, pink to red in color containing brown seeds.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 5° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.


The name of the genus come from the Latin word ‘Mammilla’ that means ‘teat’ or ‘nipple’ and refers to the numerous, nipple-shaped tubercles of their stem, that are the distinctive feature of this genus.

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