Mammillaria spinosissima subs. pilcayensis f. crestata


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Mammillaria spinosissima subs. pilcayensis f. crestata is a nursery cultivar and, thus, doesn’t exist in nature. Mammillaria spinosissima subs. pilcayensis, though, is native to the federal states of Mexico and Guerrero, specifically found in Barranca de Pilcaya and Barranca de Malinaltenango. It thrives at altitudes ranging from 600 to 1,500 meters above sea level.


Mammillaria spinosissima subsp pilcayensis is a distinct subspecies of Mammillaria spinosissima with shorter, whiter, and densely packed spines. The stems, reaching up to 50 cm, are nearly horizontal and may hang down as they grow. The cylindrical, dark blue-green stems may require support and can produce flowers prolifically. The tubercles are soft, with milky juice, arranged in 13-21 clusters. The central and radial spines, around 30-34 in number, are thin, needle-like, and flexible, with a pale yellowish color. The flowers are purple-pink, and the fruit is dull purplish-red or greenish. The crestata form, instead, conserves only the characteristics of the spines, while the form and the size of the stem is completely altered by the crestation and the cacti takes the shape of a rounded fan. Crestation is a phenomenon caused by a genetic mutation that consists in an alteration of cellular division. New cells are produced only in two perpendicular directions, and stems result in being linear-shaped, sometimes curling and forming brain-shaped structures. In Mammillaria spinosissima ssp pilcayensis f. crestata, however, the stems usually don’t curl, at least in mid-young individuals. Usually, crested plants aren’t able to bloom, but they are still appealing to succulent lovers for their unusual, odd shapes.


Mammillaria spinosissima ssp pilcayensis f. crestata, like all crested forms, is not the easiest plant to grow. However, by following some tips, it usually thrives and takes on spectacular shapes. It thrives with abundant light, avoiding excessive exposure that could harm the plant while promoting robust spine development. Cultivate it in a very porous cactus mix with minimal organic matter, and repot every 2-3 years using well-draining compost. Water regularly in summer, but exercise caution to prevent overwatering, especially considering its succulent root system. Adequate airflow and dry conditions in winter are crucial to avoid swollen and untidy growth habits. Fertilize during the growing season with a potassium and phosphorous-rich fertilizer, avoiding nitrogen-rich options that can compromise succulent plant development. While it can withstand frost if kept dry, maintaining a minimum temperature of 5° to 8°C during the rest season enhances its resilience. Provide bright sun, filtered sunlight, or afternoon shade outdoors, and bright light with some direct sun indoors. Be cautious of sunburn with prolonged direct sun exposure. Ideal for container growing, this cactus remains small and attractive, suitable for cold greenhouses and frames. While generally pest-free, watch for red spiders, mealy bugs, and scales. Red spider mites can be controlled with overhead watering, while mealy bugs may appear in the wool with occasional disfiguration. Proper watering and aeration reduce the risk of rot, a minor concern if these conditions are met.


Propagation of this plant can be achieved only through cuttings, as the forms crestata don’t produce fertile seeds. To carry out cuttings, wait until the offsets at the base of mature clustered specimens are 1/3 the size of the parent before detaching and planting them. When taking cuttings from healthy shoots in spring or summer, use a sharp, sterile knife to cut the stem. Allow the cutting to sit in a warm, dry place for a week or more until a callus forms over the wound. Once the callus is present, insert the cutting into a container filled with compacted cactus potting mix, topped with a layer of coarse grit. Place the cutting in the coarse grit to prevent excessive moisture and facilitate root penetration into the nutrient-rich compost below. Rooting usually occurs within 2 to 6 weeks, with a minimum temperature of 20°C recommended, especially in warmer weather.


 In its native Mexico, the hooked spines of the wild, non-crested species, Mammillaria spinosissima ssp pilcayensis, were traditionally used as fish hooks.

Official Web Site:

Italian Blog:

Read our advice

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search