Family: Cactaceae
Habitat: North-eastern areas of Mexico
Cultivation: Turbinicarpus are extremely tough cacti but are very slow-growing, so they are often grafted onto other species. Grow in fairly deep pots to allow the long taproot to grow easily.
Curiosity: Turbinicarpus are similar to Strombocactus, so much that some species are of uncertain attribution and are named differently according to the classification system. Rapicactus, once considered as a subgenus of Turbinicactus, instead, is now considered as a separate genus. The name “Turbinicarpus” derived from Latin “turbo” = “vertebrae” and Greek “karpos” = “fruit”, where it refers to the shape of the fruit.


The genus Turbinicarpus includes small spherical cacti mainly native to the mountainous areas in north-eastern Mexico, particularly robust and able to grow environments too hostile even to the majority of cacti. They are able to survive, for example, in the cracks of limestone at an altitude of 3,000 mt! In this case, the cactus uses the little powder settled inside the cracks as a growth substrate. By the way, It wouldn’t be able to survive without its taproot, that has the function to store water and nutrients and to anchor the plant to the rocks. In general, however, their habitats are located in a wide range of altitudes: from 300 to 3000 meters above the sea level. Their substrate of growth, as well as limeston, can also be sandstone, shale, or acidic soil (but never on volcanic soils)depending on the species. Many of the species, due to habitat loss, are threatened with extinction at the wild state.

The name “Turbinicarpus” derived from Latin “turbo” = “vertebrae” and Greek “karpos” = “fruit”, where it refers to the shape of the fruit.

The root is a taproot, long and robust. Their stem is globular, divided into tubercles moderately pronounced, equipped with spiny areoles often covered with puffs of hair. The color can range on different shades of green, depending on the species.

The flowers are large compared to the rest of the plant. They are usually pinkish or white and funnel-shaped. They grow solitary or in small groups on the top of the plant and bloom from June to August, when it reaches 5/6 years of age. They have long, narrow petals and short calyxes.


Below is a list of Turbinicarpus species recognized to date. Rapicactus, once considered a subgenus of Turbinicarpus, however, is now considered a separate genus.
Some species can instead be attributed to the genus Strombocactus, according to the type of classification.

  • T. alonsoi
  • T. alosoi f. cristata
  • T. andersonii (T. panarottoi)
  • T. beguinii (Gymnocactus)
  • T. beguinii var. albiflorus
  • T. beguinii var. senilis
  • T. flaviflorus
  • T. flaviflorus brevispinus
  • T. gielsdorfianus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. horripilus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. horripilus monstrous form
  • T. hybrid cv. TORITO
  • T. jauernigii
  • T. knuthianus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. lauii
  • T. lophophoroides
  • T. lophophoroides Form cristata
  • T. lophophoroides Monstrous form
  • T. macrochele
  • T. macrochele cristata form
  • T. mandragora(Gymnocactus)
  • T. pailanus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. polaskiiT. polaskii variegated form
  • T. pseudomacrochele
  • T. pseudomacrochele ssp. krainzianus minimal form / crystalline form
  • T. pseudomacrochele ssp. lausseri
  • T. pseudopectinatus
  • T. pseudopectinatus ssp. jarmillae
  • T. pseudopectinatus crystal form
  • T. rioverdensis
  • T. rioverdensis ssp. Paoli (T. longispinus)
  • T. roseiflorusforma variegata
  • T. saueri
  • T. saueri ssp. nelissae
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. schmiedickeanus
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. bonatzii
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. dickisoniae
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. gracilis
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. klinkerianus
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. klinkerianus “lilinkeuiduus”
  • T. schmiedicheanus ssp. rubriflorus T. schmiedicheanus ssp. schwarzii
  • T. schmiedicheanus VARIEGED form
  • T. sp. Negrita
  • T. subterraneus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. subterraneus v. zaragosae (Gymnocactus)
  • T. swobodae
  • T. valdezianus
  • T. valdezianus v. albiflorus
  • T. valdezianus forma cristata
  • T. viereckii (Gymnocactus)
  • T. viereckii var. major (Gymnocactus)
  • T. viereckii var. neglectus (Gymnocactus)
  • T. ysabelae (Gymnocactus)

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Turbinicarpus are extremely tough cacti but have a very slow growth, so that they are often grafted onto other species. Here are our cultivation tips:

  • Choose a very bright location but preferably sheltered from direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  • It is preferable to keep them always at temperatures above 0 ° C, although they can withstand brief frosts if left in well-dried soil.
  • Water every 5-6 days in spring and summer, decreasing the frequency in autumn until stopping watering in winter.
  • Use a ready-to-use compost for cacti with the addition of a little calcareous grit.
  • Fertilize once a year, at the beginning of the vegetative season.
  • Choose large and deep pots to contain the long taproots.

Turbinicarpus are mainly reproduced by sowing, placing the seeds on a bed of slightly damp sand and at a temperature of about 20°C.

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