Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis
The name “Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis” is actually a synonym of Mammillaria gracilis. Other synonyms are:
M. gracilis var. pulchella
East Mexico (Hidalgo and Queretaro), growing under taller xerophilic shrubs or in sandy plains of arid environments.
Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis is a little cacti, not taller than 13-15 centimeters, formed by a cluster of stocky, tiny, cylindrical stems, 3 centimeters large. Its peculiar stems have made it earn the name “thimble cactus”, precisely because they remind tiny little thimbles. Though it’s not so tall, M. vetula subsp. gracilis tends to form multiple stems branching abundantly from the basal parts and to form like “short bushes”, expanding horizontally. The stems surface is not smooth and it has multiple tubercles. At the top of each one there is a star-shaped group of white spines (11 to 16 spines arranged radially), thin and straight. Sometimes, at the centre of some “wheels” of spines, there are 1-2 central ones, pointing outwards but, more often, there isn’t any spine and the central part is slightly depressed, like a navel. The rare central spines would be brown, straight, 1 centimeter long.
In Spring or late summer, bell-shaped, white or creamy yellow flowers appear, up to 1,2 centimeters long, that turn into fleshy red, beautiful fruit containing numerous, small (1 millimeter large) black seeds.
M. gracilis cv. oruga is not so 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 -4ºC), if its substrate is maintained completely dry during the Winter. However, to stay safe, it’s better to keep it indoors.
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.
The propagation of this cacti can be carried out either by cutting or by seeds. Cutting is further more used as a reproduction method. The thible-shaped stem are easy detachable and, often, in fact, in Spring and Summer, some of them detach on their own and put roots.
Mammillaria is one of the largest species of cactacea and groups many species. Their name, “Mammillaria”, comes from the Latin word “Mammilla”, meaning “nipple”, and refers to the numerous, nipple-shaped tubercles of their stem, that are the distinctive feature of this genus. The species name “gracilis”, probably refers instead to the thimble-shaped stems of this cacti that tend to detach easily and put roots in spring and Summer, to reproduce the species.
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