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Accepted Scientific Name: Mammillaria grahamii Engelm.
Syn. Cact. U. S. 6. 1856 Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 262. 1857 Engelm.
Origin and Habitat: Southern USA ( Texas, New Mexico, Utah, California and Arizona) and Mexico (Chihuahua Sinaloa, and Sonora)
Type locality: "On the Gila, 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the sea."
Altitude: It grows at elevations from 300 to 1,500 metres above sea level.
Habitat: It is wide-ranging and abundant in sandy plains, gravelly slopes, and rocky ridges in xerophyllous scrub and grasslands.
Ecology: This plants uses nurse plants to protect against frosts, harsh sun, trampling, etc. so one must look carefully under shrubs and trees to find them. In the same area it is possible to find several cactus and succulent species like: Echinocactus parryi, Echinocereus fendleri, Echinocereus pectinatus, Coryphantha recurvata, Lophocereus schottii, Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum, Stenocereus thuberi, Opuntia fulgida, Opuntia leptocaulis, Opuntia engelmannii, Opuntia violacea, Opuntia bigelowii, Ferocactus wislizenii, Carnegiea gigantea, Ferocactus acanthodes, Ferocactus emoryi, Ephedra trifurca, Agave palmeri, Yucca elata, and Fouquieria macdougalii.
- Mammillaria microcarpa Engelm. in Emory
Mammillaria grahamii Engelm.
Syn. Cact. U. S. 6. 1856 Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 3: 262. 1857
- Mammillaria grahamii Engelm.
- Cactus grahamii (Engelm.) Kuntze
- Chilita grahamii (Engelm.) Orcutt
- Cochemiea grahamii (Engelm.) Doweld
- Coryphantha grahamii (Engelm.) Rydb.
- Mammillaria microcarpa subs. grahamii (Engelm.) Mottram
- Mammillaria milleri var. grahamii (Engelm.) Neutel.
- Mammillaria microcarpa Engelm. in Emory
- Chilita microcarpa (Engelm. in Emory) Buxb.
- Ebnerella microcarpa (Engelm. in Emory) Buxb.
- Neomammillaria microcarpa (Engelm. in Emory) Britton & Rose
- Mammillaria microcarpa var. auricarpa W.T.Marshall
- Mammillaria microcarpa f. auricarpa (W.T.Marshall) Neutel.
- Mammillaria milleri f. auricarpa (W.T.Marshall) Neutel.
- Mammillaria milleri (Britton & Rose) Boed.
- Chilita milleri (Britton & Rose) Orcutt
- Mammillaria microcarpa var. milleri (Britton & Rose) W.T.Marshall
- Neomammillaria milleri Britton & Rose
- Mammillaria oliviae Orcutt
Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt
Cactaceae Syst. Init. 20: 21. 2005 [Nov 2005]
- Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt
- Chilita sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Orcutt
- Cochemiea sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Doweld
- Ebnerella sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Buxb.
- Mammillaria microcarpa var. sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Neutel.
- Mammillaria milleri var. sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Neutel.
- Mammillaria sheldonii (Britton & Rose) Boed.
- Neomammillaria sheldonii Britton & Rose
- Mammillaria alamensis R.T.Craig
- Chilita alamensis (R.T.Craig) Buxb.
- Escobariopsis sinistrohamata (Boed.) Doweld
- Neomammillaria alamensis (R.T.Craig) Y.Itô
- Mammillaria gueldemanniana Backeb.
- Chilita gueldemanniana (Backeb.) Buxb.
- Mammillaria microcarpa f. gueldemanniana (Backeb.) Neutel.
- Mammillaria milleri f. gueldemanniana (Backeb.) Neutel.
- Mammillaria gueldemanniana var. guirocobensis (R.T.Craig) Backeb.
- Mammillaria inaiae R.T.Craig
- Chilita inaiae (R.T.Craig) Buxb.
- Ebnerella inaiae (R.T.Craig) Buxb.
- Neomammillaria inaiae (R.T.Craig) Y.Itô
- Mammillaria marnieriana Backeb.
- Mammillaria pseudoalamensis Backeb.
- Mammillaria swinglei (Britton & Rose) Boed.
- Chilita swinglei (Britton & Rose) Orcutt
- Chilita swingleri (Britton & Rose) Orcutt
- Cochemiea swinglei (Britton & Rose) Doweld
- Ebnerella swinglei (Britton & Rose) Buxb.
- Mammillaria microcarpa f. swinglei (Britton & Rose) Neutel.
- Mammillaria milleri f. swingeli (Britton & Rose) Neutel.
- Neomammillaria swinglei Britton & Rose
ENGLISH: Lizard Catcher, Fish-hook cactus, Pincushion Fish-hook Cactus, Sunset Cactus, Pincushion Cactus, Fishhook Cactus
Description: Mammillaria microcarpa has long been a favorite in living collections. 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 rose-purple flowers circling the crown of the plant. This plant is generally known under the name of Mammillaria grahamii. This species is quite common in habitat, but variable throughout the region.
Habit: Simple or budding either at base or near middle, often cespitose, but in small clusters, sometimes 20 cm high.
Stem: Globose, conical to short cylindric, light green, up to 20 cm tall (but usually only 7-8 cm), 2,5-8(-11) cm in diameter.
Tubercles: Small, ovoid to cylindrical, often bases four-angled or flattened from side to side when old, corky when old. Without latex.
Areoles: Dimorphic. The spinous portion, at the tip of the tubercle, is small round or oval, with some white wool at first, but later bare. The floral or vegetative part in the axil is without wool, so the axils are naked.
Radial spines: 15 to 35, radiating evenly from the areole, lying flat upon the surface of the plant, interlocking with those of neighboring areoles and nearly hiding flesh of plant, straight, needle-like, white, sometimes with dark brown to reddish tips, slender, rigid, glabrous, 6 to 12 mm long, lateral ones longest. The upper centrals stand up-right just in front of the upper radials, forming a V if there are two of them, but there may be only one.
Central spines: 1 to 3, yellowish-brown, dark-brown to purplish black, when more than one the lower stouter, 12-25 mm long, the longest one usually hooked and standing out perpendicular to the plant surface.
Flowers: Forming a ring around the new growth near top of plant, 2 to 4,5 cm long, broadly funnel-shaped, opening widely, pink, lavender-pink or reddish purple, sometimes white. Outer perianth segments ovate, obtuse, or conical with brownish midlines and short-ciliate margins; inner perianth-segments longer purplish, slender, sometimes with whitish margins, obovate, acuminate. Filaments pink; anthers pale orange. Style longer than stamens, up to 6 mm long above the stamens, purplish; stigma-lobes 6 or 10, linear, light green.
Fruit: Subglobose to clavate, 12 to 25 mm broad, scarlet, with the dried flower parts remaining upon them. These fruits develop rather slowly, there is a long blooming season, and those started late in the summer remain as small, green, oval structures under the spines until during the winter they dry up without ripening properly at all. For this reason fruits have sometimes been called dimorphic.
Seeds: Black, shining, pitted, almost globose, 0,8 to 1 mm in diameter.
Notes: The degree of difference between Mammillaria grahamii and Mammillaria microcarpa is still a matter for debate.
Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Mammillaria grahamii/sheldonii group
- Mammillaria alamensis R.T.Craig: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii) without or with only 1 central spine, about 9 radial spines, white, tipped brown, needle-like, about 6 to 8 mm long. Distribution: Sierra de Alamos, Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.
- Mammillaria grahamii Engelm.: has 20-35 white to greyish to light brown to reddish radial spines. 1-4 central spines yellowish to dark brown central, one usually hooked. It is very variable. Distribution: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, USA; Sonora, Sinaloa and Chihuahua, Mexico.
- Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii (Britton & Rose) D.R.Hunt: has 9-24 radial spines. Central spines either straight or hooked, 1-1,5 cm long. Flowers purplish-pink with a pinkish brown midstripe. It is variable. Distribution: Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua).
- Mammillaria gueldemanniana Backeb.: aside from bigger flowers, not many differences. Distribution: Mexico, Chihuahua, Sonora and Sinaloa.
- Mammillaria gueldemanniana var. guirocobensis (R.T.Craig) Backeb.: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii) has 1-3 reddish-brown central spines almost 1 cm long. One spine is hooked. Flowers bigger and widely open. Distribution: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua at higher altitudes.
- Mammillaria inaiae R.T.Craig: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii)
- Mammillaria marnieriana Backeb.: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii)
- Mammillaria microcarpa Engelm. in Emory: (Mammillaria grahamii) has 15-35 pale radial spines and 1-3, yellowish-brown to purplish black centrals, the longest hooked. Fruits scarlet. Distribution: USA (Texas, New Mexico, Utah, California and Arizona) and Mexico.
- Mammillaria microcarpa var. auricarpa W.T.Marshall: (Mammillaria grahamii) has pale, radial spines and a yellowish brown hooked central spine. Flowers are 4 cm in diameter, pink, and are followed by golden yellow berries. Distribution: U.S.A. (Arizona).
- Mammillaria oliviae Orcutt: (Mammillaria grahamii)
- Mammillaria pseudoalamensis Backeb.: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii) variant recognisable from M. alamensis for the absence of central spines, and larger flowers with a characteristic distinctive orange pistil. Distribution: West of Alamos, Sonora, Mexico.
- Mammillaria swinglei (Britton & Rose) Boed.: (Mammillaria grahamii subs. sheldonii) has wide funnelform purplish pink flowers up to 3. Stile style pink, twice as long as the pink filaments; stigma-lobes 8, linear, pointed, green.
Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) Pilbeam J., “The Cactus file, Mammillaria” 6: 120, Cirio Pub. Services, 01/Dec/1999
2) John Pilbeam “Cacti for the Connoisseur: A Guide for Growers & Collectors” Timber Press, 01/lug/1987
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) Brian Loflin, Shirley Loflin “Texas Cacti: A Field Guide” Texas A&M University Press, 26/ott/2009
7) Forrest Shreve, Ira Loren Wiggins “Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert” Volume 1 Stanford University Press, 1964
8) Heil, K., Terry, M. & Corral-Díaz, R. 2013. Mammillaria grahamii. In: IUCN 2013. “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.” Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 11 January 2014.
9) Del Weniger “Cacti of the Southwest: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana” University of Texas Press, 1969
10) Ulises Guzmán, Salvador Arias, Patricia Dávila: “Catálogo de cactáceas mexicanas.” Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico state. 2003
11) Urs Eggli, Leonard E. Newton “Etymological Dictionary of Succulent Plant Names” Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg 2010
Cultivation and Propagation: This plant is not famous for being easy to cultivate, but in good conditions with excellent ventilation, it grows without difficulty. It is especially sensitive to over-watering. So careful watering and an open mineral potting soil are a must. Avoid the use of peat or other humus sources in the potting mixture. Don't add limestone to the potting mix, which must be moderately acidic. It can be sensitive to frost (but some population are resistant to -10° C). It requires maximum sun exposure to reach its full potential, and to achieve success in flowering. 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. Be careful to encourage slow growth.
Propagation: Seeds or offsets.
- Apache, Pima, Chiricahua & Mescaleros: They used the fresh and dried fruit primarily for children, as a snack food..
- Pima: They used the boiled plant placed warm in the ear for earaches and suppurating ears.
- Seri And Pima also used it in special ceremonies by shamans. Fruits are also said to produce hallucinatory effects.
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