Mammillaria spinosissima cv. Un Pico f. crested


No synonyms are recorded for this name.


Mammillaria spinosissima cv. Un Pico crested form is a nursery-grown cultivar and thus is not present in nature. The species from which the cultivar has been created, Mammillaria spinosissima, is instead endemic to mountains of central Mexico, where it grow at altitudes between 1600 and 1900 meters above sea level. In particular, it’s from the areas of Morelos, Guerrero, and Mexico State. It habitats are tropical dry forests and scrubs of xerophyllous plants. “Xerophyllous” is a botanical term to describe plants adapted to dry environments: all cacti and succulents are somehow xerophyllous thanks to the water storage in their fleshy stems and to many other modification of the stems and leaves developed to survive to drought.


Mammillaria spinosissima is a small cacti, densely covered in spines. The cultivar “Un Pico” is a stable genetic mutation of M. spinosissima, in which each areole only produces one spine instead of many as in the regular form. Some perfectly spineless areoles are still present. Being developed from a already rare cultivar of an endemic species, the crested form is still very rare and sought after by collectors, for its unique aspect. It is, in fact, fan-shaped like many crested cacti, however the whole plant looks like a resting serpent, for its convoluted growth habit. As it happens in any Mammillaria, the bright green stem is covered by numerous tubercles. From almost every of them a thin, white spine grows, so that the cacti may also remind an odd, green hedgehog. The tubercles are ovate, almost conical, and have earned the plant the name “Mammillaria”, which literally means “equipped with nipples”. On the crest, a medial, white line is present, like the parting in the middle of the human hair, and it neatly divides the crested stems in two. This cultivar is rather small, rather exceeding 8 centimeters in width. Flowers are purple red, 1 centimeter long and wide, and turn into red or greenish fruits.


Mammillaria spinosissima cv. Un Pico crested form is not difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:

Put it in a bright spot, exposed to direct sunlight, with the possible exception of the hottest hours of Summer dayr (however it will tolerate intense sunlight).
It can stand frosts (down to -5ºC), if its substrate is maintained completely dry during the Winter. However, to stay safe, it’s better to keep it indoors. During dormancy, we suggest to keep the plant to a low air humidity.
Water sparingly during Spring and Summer, always waiting for the soil to dry up completely before each watering. In Winter, waterings should be completely suspended, to avoid root rotting.
Choose a very well-draining substrate, with a abundant mineral part. A standard soil for cacti will do good, even better if further enriched with inert materials such as pumice, sand or lapilli.
This cacti, unlike other Mammillarias, is slow-growing. Once estabilished, it will stay in its same soil and pot for years. While still growing however, we suggest to repot it every year in order to make it reach its optimal dimension.
It doesn’t need frequent fertilizations, it is sufficient to dilute the fertilizer with watering once a year, in Summer. From September onwards, avoid fertilization as it may cause a weakening of the stem tissues. 


The propagation of this cacti can be carried out by cuttings, as crested forms cannot be propagated by seeds: either because they don’t produce seeds at all, and because the hypothetical seeds taken from crested cultivar couldn’t give birth to a crested plant, but they would form a normal M. spinosissima cv. Pico.


A “Crestata” variety is a variety in which a phenomenon of fasciation occurs, creating crested, peculiar shapes of an organ of the plant (generally the stem). Fasciation is an abnormal growth condition of vascular plants where the cellular multiplication occurs only in two directions (instead of all direction as it happens in regular tissue growth), and becomes elongated and flattened perpendicularly to the direction of cellular growth.
Crested forms are still a mystery in plant biology: the main theory is that the cause is a genetic mutation, however some think also that the modification of the stems into crests might be the result of a strike of lightning or freeze damages. In crested forms, the growth point becomes a line that folds as the crest grows.

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