Mammillaria of the Month

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Mammillaria stella-de-tacubaya

Photo: Plant in collection: M. aureilanata                                                                                                                                                                       Copyright: Chris Davies 2012

Mammillaria stella-de-tacubaya is another early flowering species. Its naming has been finally resolved after considerable field work in the state of Durango, from where this hooked spined species from the Lasiacantae comes. 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 state of Durango.

The plant which previously was known under the name of Mammillaria gasseriana is generally attributable now to M. stella-de-tacubaya, and the slender spined plant from Coahuila which we knew as M. viescensis is now found under the name of M. gasseriana. It sounds like musical chairs, and to some extent it is, the consequence of the duplication of place names in Mexico and the paucicity of accurate location data in the original descriptions.

The plant itself is typical of the Lasiacantae, being quite sensitive to water, with swollen roots, and a liking for some limestone in its compost, although it can be successfully grown in a normal cactus mix., albeit one with a rather large amount of grit. It remains solitary, certainly in habitat, and also most often in cultivation, although some plants in cultivation do offset, which is often the way it seems, especially if they are grown with the regular addition of  fertiliser.