Mammillaria of the Month
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Mammillaria crinita fma. (M. variabilis)
Mammillaria variabilis Photo: copyright Chris Davies
This form of Mammillaria crinita was first described by Reppenhagen in Kakteen und andere Sukkulenten 36 (10): 206 - 207. 1985. It has been subsumed into the broader definition of Mammillaria crinita proposed by Hunt, but is nevertheless a distinctive member with its yellow central spination and pink flowers.
It is a clustering plant, with globose to cylindrical stems, dark green, sunken apically, 20 - 80 mm high and 20 - 40 mm in diameter. It has fibrous roots, and it has clear sap. Its tubercles are compact, soft, conical with rounded tips, 7 - 9 mm long and 4 - 5 mm wide at base. The axils are naked. It has 14 - 19 radial spines, flattened against the stem surface, radiating, bristle like, straight, smooth, glassy white, 6 - 10 mm long. It has 4 - 9 central spines are: , needle like, the lowest the longest, darkest, thickest and hooked, smooth, glassy white to reddish brown to dark brown, 7 - 10 mm long. The flowers are funnelform, yellowish, whitish, to carmine pink, 12 - 16 mm long and in diameter. Mostly in cultivation are plants with darker flowers, but as can be seen from the description, these pink flowers are not consistent in this form. The fruit is globose to ovate, whitish to carmine red. 5 - 10 mm long and 2 - 4 mm wide. Typically it ripens 14 months after flowering.
As is perhaps obvious the taxonomy of this plant is disputed, but the prime experts in the Stylothelae, the Fitz-Maurices firmly place this in synonomy with Mammillaria crinita.
Whatever the truth, this species grows relatively easily, and is a beautiful sight in full flower.