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Origin and Habitat: Coahuila (San Pedro and Viesca) and in Durango (about 100 km apart) and it may occur at other places in between and peraps in Zacatecas too. The area of occupancy of the species across all three locations known is less than 10 km².
Altitude: It grows at about 800-1400(-2300) metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This cactus grows on volcanic and calcareous rock in xerophytic shrubland together with Mammillaria mexicensis, Mammillaria guelzowiana, Mammillaria guelzowiana v. robustior, Coryphantha durangensis, Echinocereus stramineus, Echinocereus pectinatus, Ferocactus hamatacanthus, Thelocactus heterochromus, Opuntia kleiniae, Opuntia violacea, Opuntia imbricata, Euphorbia antisyphilitica, Fouquieria splendens, and Yucca thompsoniana. This cactus is moderately threatened by illegal collecting. There is probably overgrazing of the habitat by goats, but that is not a major threat.
- Mammillaria gasseriana Boed.
Mammillaria gasseriana Boed.
Z. Sukkulentenk. 3: 75, fig. 1927 as Mamillaria
- Mammillaria gasseriana Boed.
- Chilita gasseriana (Boed.) Buxb.
- Ebnerella gasseriana (Boed.) Buxb.
- Mammillaria lasiacantha var. gasseriana (Boed.) Rogoz. & Plein
- Mammillaria viescensis Rogoz. & Appenz.
- Mammillaria lasiacantha subs. viescensis (Rogoz. & Appenz.) Rogoz. & Plein
SPANISH (Español): Biznaguita
Description: Mammillaria gasseriana is a slow and difficult species, densely covered in white appressed, radial spines with pinkish-brown central spines. It is sensitive to any excess of moisture and does not do well in cultivation, but will reward the skilled growers with ring of fine cream-brown flowers circling the crown of the plant. This plant is often known under the name of Mammillaria viescensis. This species is quite common in habitat, but variable throughout the region.
Habit: Solitary or clumping basally.
Stems: Spherical to somewhat elongate with depressed apexes, 3-4 cm across.
Tubercles: Densely-packed, cylindrical to conical, rounded apically, without latex, axils naked.
Central spines: 1-2, sometimes absent, hooked and erect, stout, light brown with dark tips, 4-8 mm long.
Radial spines: 40-50, sometimes pectinate or flattened against the stem surface, white, 5-8 mm long.
Flowers: Broad-funnelform 7-8 mm in diameter, circling the crown of the plant. Tepals cream-white, with light brown mid-stripes. Throats greenish.
Fruits: Club shaped, brownish red, 6-9 mm long.
Seeds: Blackish grey.
Note: This species belongs to a controversial group of related species comprising, Mammillaria stella-de-tacubaya, Mammillaria chica, Mammillaria lasiacantha, Mammillaria magallanii, Mammillaria magallani var. hamatispina, so similar and intermingled that it is almost impossible to name them accurately without knowing where they come from. It is not surprising to have caused so much difficulty, because you can find plants with hooked spines and plants with no central spines growing cheek by jowl in many parts of the areal. Whatever they are called they are all lovely plants meriting a place in any cactus collection.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Mammillaria gasseriana group
- Mammillaria gasseriana Boed.: has tiny stems densely covered in white appressed, radial spines with pinkish-brown central spines. Distribution: Coahuila (San Pedro and Viesca) and in Durango, Mexico
- Mammillaria viescensis Rogoz. & Appenz.: has slender hooked central spines. Distribution: Coahuila, near Amparo and near Viesca. (Mexico)
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Fitz Maurice, W.A., Fitz Maurice, B & Hernández, H.M. 2013. Mammillaria gasseriana. In: IUCN 2013. "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species." Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 13 January 2014.
2) Pilbeam J., “The Cactus file, Mammillaria” 6: 120, Cirio Pub. Services, 01/Dec/1999
3) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey "The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass" Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug/2011
4) David R Hunt; Nigel P Taylor; Graham Charles; International Cactaceae Systematics Group. "The New Cactus Lexicon" dh books, 2006
5) Edward Anderson “The Cactus family” Timber Press, Incorporated, 2001
6) Reppenhagen, “Die Gattung Mammillaria” 1987
Cultivation and Propagation: This plant has not the fame to be easy to cultivate, but in good conditions with very careful application of water and excellent ventilation, it grows without difficulty. Be careful to encourage slow growth, but if you succeed in growing a colony of stems, then the results will repay all the growing efforts.
Growing rate: It is a slow growing species that will make clumps given the best conditions, but rewards the patient grower with a beautiful displays of flowers since from an early age.
Soil: Requires excellent drainage provided by a very permeable open cactus soil (With not less than 50% grit content). Avoid the use of peat or other humus sources in the potting mixture.
Repotting: Repot every 2-3 years. Use small sized pots.
Feeding: During the beautiful season enrich the soil using a fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorous, but poor in nitrogen, because this chemical element doesn’t help the development of succulent plants, making them too soft and full of water.
Watering: Water should be carefully applied and only when the soil is dry to the touch, as this cliff-dwelling species is very prone to root rot. Allow soil to drain thoroughly before watering again. Additionally, water should not be applied from above, as the feathery spines will retain water and add to rotting problems, but in good conditions with excellent ventilation, in bright light, it usually grows without particular difficulty. Do not water in the winter.
Light: Outside full sun or afternoon shade, inside it needs bright light, and some direct sun. Direct sun encourages flowering and heavy spine production.
Hardiness: Protect from frost. But it's hardy to -5°C if kept dry. A winter rest that allows the plant to shrivel (perhaps losing up to 25% of its summer height) will encourage flowering and long time survival.
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: occasionally they 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 cacti if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: Direct sow after last frost or (rarely) cuttings. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21-27° C in spring, remove gradually the glass cover as soon the plants will be well rooted (ca 1-2 weeks) and keep ventilated, no full sun for young plants!
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