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Origin and Habitat: It grows in vast area that extend in central and south America,comprising southern Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Jamaica, Colombia, Venezuela (Peru?)
Altitude: 500 - 2150(-2500) metres above sea level.
Habitat: It grows in wide range of habitats especially on rocky slopes and terraces slightly to very inclined and also along the shores of small rivers and canyons often on mossy rocks among sparse xerophytic shrubs. Occasionally in some protected areas it grows along with Melocactus pescaderensis as an epiphyte plant on Prosopis juliflora.
Mammillaria columbiana Salm-Dyck
Cact. Hort. Dyck. (1849) . 99. 1850
- Mammillaria columbiana Salm-Dyck
- Neomammillaria columbiana (Salm-Dyck) Y.Itô
- Mammillaria columbiana var. albescens W.Haage & Backeb. ex Repp.
- Mammillaria columbiana var. bogotensis (Werderm. ex Backeb.) Dugand
- Mammillaria bogotensis Werderm. in Backeb.
- Mammillaria hennisii Boed.
- Mammillaria soehlemannii W.Haage & Backeb. in Backeb.
- Mammillaria tamayonis Killip ex Schnee
Mammillaria columbiana subs. yucatanensis (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt
Mammillaria Postscripts 6: 9 (1997)
- Mammillaria columbiana subs. yucatanensis (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt
- Mammillaria celsiana var. guatemalensis Eichlam
- Mammillaria chiapensis Repp.
- Mammillaria ruestii Quehl
- Neomammillaria ruestii (Quehl) Britton & Rose
ENGLISH: South American pincushion
UKRAINIAN (Українська): Мамілярія колумбійська, Мамілярія колубіана
Description: Mammillaria columbiana is a mostly solitary or slowly offsetting cactus. Due to its ample diffusion it is extremely variable and for this reason it can be called the cactus of the “Thousand Faces”.
Stem: Narrow columnar stem, 8-25 cm tall, 5-18 cm broad.
Sap: Without latex.
Tubercles: Short conical.
Axil: Moderately woolly or densely woolly.
Radial spine: 18-20, bristle-like, white, 4-6 mm long.
Central spine: (3-)4-5(-7), golden yellow or greyish, needle-like, straight, 6-8 mm long.
Flower: Small that fail to fully open, bright red-pink, barely protruding from the wool.
Fruit: Club shaped, orange-red to purple.
Seed: Brown to glossy black, small, oval-rounded.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Mammillaria columbiana group
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) John Pilbeam (1999) “Mammillaria The Cactus File Handbook” page 74.
2) Edward F. Anderson (2001) “ The Cactus Family” page 412.
3) Sofía Albesiano, J.O.Orlando Rangel-Ch., Alberto Cadena “Vegetation of the Chicamocha River Canyon (Santander, Colombia)” Caldasia 25(1) 2003: 73-99
4) J.L. Fernandez-Alonso & G. Xhonneux Rev. Acad. Colomb. Cien. Exact. Fis. Nat. 26: 353-365. 2002;
5) J.L. Fernandez-Alonso & G. Xhonneux Cact. Aventures Int. 56: 2-15. 2002
6) Sofía Albesiano, & J.L. Fernandez-Alonso “Catalogue of the vascular plants from the Chicamocha river canyon (tropical zone), Boyacá-Santander, Colombia. First part” Caldasia 28(1):23-44. 2006
Mammillaria columbiana Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
The gallery now contains thousands of pictures, however it is possible to do even more. We are, of course, seeking photos of species not yet shown in the gallery but not only that, we are also looking for better pictures than those already present. Read More...
Cultivation and Propagation: The Mammillaria columbiana is an easy to grow tropical Mammillaria, that doesn't take any frost.
Growth rate: It is a relatively rapidly growing and easily flowering species that will make clumps given the best conditions.
Soils: It likes very porous alkaline soil with a fair amount of organic matter.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: Water regularly in summer, but do not overwater (Rot prone), keep dry in winter. However it needs more water than its Mexican relatives and seems to tolerate moisture around the roots somewhat better than most species.
Fertilization: Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer.
Hardiness: Tender. Avoid any frost. Reputedly sensitive to low temperatures, but less so if kept on the dry side prior to, and during, cold weather. Warmth throughout the year will increase the grower's success.
Exposition: Outside full sun or afternoon shade, inside it needs bright light, and some direct sun. Subject to sunburn if exposed to direct sun for too long. Tends to bronze in strong light, which encourages flowering and heavy wool and spine production.
Uses: It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small. It look fine in a cold greenhouse and frame or outdoor in a rockery.
Pests & diseases: It may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the vulnerable plants every day
- Mealy bugs: Mealybugs develop aerial into the new growth among the wool with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: it is only a minor problem with mammillarias if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Warning: It has very sharp and hard spines. You should use gloves or wrap the cactus with thick newspaper. They may make it easier.
Propagation: Division, direct sow after last frost. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21-27° C in spring. To make a cutting twist off a branch and permit it to dry out a couple of weeks, lay it on the soil and insert the stem end partially into the soil. Try to keep the cutting somewhat upright so that the roots are able to grow downward.
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