Mammillaria of the Month

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Mammillaria tetrancistra

Photo: Copyright of Chris Davies 2009

Mammillaria tetrancistra is one of the more difficult Mammillarias to grow, some would say the most difficult. The splendour of its flowers make it a species worthy of perseverance, and can be truly magnificent.

The species comes mainly from the western US states of Arizona and California extending northwards into Nevada and Utah, and southwards across the Mexican border into Sonoroa and northern Baja California.

It's spination is quite variable over this range, especially in the radial spine count, with higher numbers being represented by the more northern forms.

The plant shown above is a grafted plant, and this is by far the easiest way of growing it, although it tends to grow to a larger size, its body less compact, when grown in the way. Any grower of Mammillarias should have this species, and try it both on a graft and on it sown roots. It comes from seed with surprising ease, although nurturing it through the first few years is very tricky. An open compost, a very light hand with the watering can, and some winter warmth seem to help, but are not the universal panaceae.