Neomammillaria polycentra var. auricoma
Neomammillaria polycentra var. aurorea
Neomammillaria polycentra var. brunnea
Mammillaria spinosissima is native to Mexico Central, Mexico Northeast and Mexico Southwest where the plant grows in tropical dry forests and scrubs of xerophyllous plants. This cactus can spread up to 1900 m of altitude.
Mammillaria spinosissima 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 a branched habit in age. The stem is cylindrical, dark green in color, made of short, nipple-shaped tubercles and can reach up to 40 cm in height and 10 cm in diameter. At the top of the tubercles are located the areoles. The areoles are white, large and woolly and bear the spines. The 4-15 central spines are bristle-like, 2 cm long, yellowish to reddish. The 20-26 radial spines are short, thin straight, white to yellowish and cover almost the entire surface of the plant. 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, purple to red with yellow central stamens. The fruits are club-shaped, greenish in color.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 5°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: 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. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years 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. The species name “spinosissima” refers to the numerous spines of this cactus.
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