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Mammillaria elongata var. Cristata

(Brain Cactus)


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Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Brain Cactus, Golden Lace, Golden Star Cactus, Lace Cactus, Ladyfinger Cactus


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Family Cactaceae

Fleshy perennials , shrubs , trees or vines , terrestrial or epiphytic. Stems jointed , terete , globose , flattened, or fluted , mostly leafless and variously spiny . Leaves alternate, flat or subulate to terete, vestigial, or entirely absent; spines, glochids (easily detached, small, bristlelike spines), and flowers always arising from cushionlike, axillary areoles (modified short shoots ) . Flowers solitary, sessile, rarely clustered and stalked (in Pereskia), bisexual , rarely unisexual , actinomorphic or occasionally zygomorphic. Receptacle tube (hypanthium or perianth tube) absent or short to elongate , naked or invested with leaflike bracts, scales , areoles, and hairs , bristles , or spines; perianth segments usually numerous , in a sepaloid to petaloid series. Stamens numerous, variously inserted in throat and tube; anthers 2-loculed, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary (pericarpel) inferior, rarely superior, 1-loculed, with 3 to many parietal (rarely basal) placentas; ovules usually numerous; style 1; stigmas 2 to numerous, papillate , rarely 2-fid. Fruit juicy or dry, naked, scaly , hairy , bristly , or spiny, indehiscent or dehiscent , when juicy then pulp derived from often deliquescent funicles (except in Pereskia) . Seeds usually numerous, often arillate or strophiolate ; embryo curved or rarely straight; endosperm present or absent; cotyledons reduced or vestigial, rarely leaflike.

About 110 genera and more than 1000 species: temperate and tropical America; Rhipsalis baccifera (J. S. Mueller) Stearn native in tropical Africa, Madagascar, Comoros, Mascarenes, and Sri Lanka; some species of other genera now extensively naturalized in the Old World through human agency; more than 60 genera and 600 species cultivated as ornamentals or hedges in China, of which four genera and seven species more or less naturalized.[1]

Genus Mammillaria

Plants mostly erect (rarely decumbent or prostrate ), branched or unbranched, deep-seated in substrate or not. Roots diffuse or taproots (adventitious from offsets in M. thornberi and M. prolifera) . Stems unsegmented , green to gray-green, sometimes purplish under stress, spheric to cylindric or turbinate , often flat-topped, 1-15(-25) × 1.8-12(-20) cm, firm or flaccid ; tubercles distinct , not confluent into ribs , pyramidal , conic, or cylindric, 3-25 × 2-9 mm; areoles of 2 kinds: vegetative areoles (spine clusters ) at tips of tubercles; reproductive areoles in axils of tubercles, woolly , bristly , or naked; areolar glands absent; cortex and pith usually not mucilaginous , instead containing latex (absent in M. grahamii) . Spines [2-]5-80(-90) per areole, of every color that cactus spines can be, hairlike, bristlelike, or needlelike, glabrous or plumose , (0.5-) 2-25(-31) × 0.01-0.6 mm; radial spines (6-) 10-80 per areole, straight to curved or crinkly bristles , (0.6-) 3-25 mm; central spines 0-several (indefinitely numerous and intergrading with radial spines in M. lasiacantha), straight, curved, or hooked , terete . Flowers diurnal , in ring distant from stem apex (or nearly apical at anthesis forming a ring around new growth, subsequent apical growth displacing fruits even farther away from apex), in axils of tubercles, unconnected to spine clusters, funnelform , campanulate , or rotate, 0.9-4(-5.2) × 0.6-3.5(-7.5) cm; outer tepal margins entire or fringed ; inner tepals yellow, white, rose-pink, magenta, or maroon, 4-30 × 1.5-8.5 mm; ovary lacking scales and spines; stigma lobes cream, yellow, red, pink, or brownish green, 0.3-8 mm. Fruits indehiscent, usually pink, bright red, or greenish, green and barrel-shaped when seeds mature , sometimes becoming colored and clavate or cylindric to ovoid , 5-30(-40) × (2-) 4-9(-26) mm, usually juicy; scales and spines absent (or rudimentary ) ; floral remnant persistent to quickly deciduous. Seeds black, brown, reddish, or yellowish (with tan, corky strophioles in M. tetrancistra), 0.8-1.5 × 0.6-1.4 mm, usually pitted or raised-reticulate (with additional wrinkling in M. tetrancistra) [impressed-reticulate M. candida of Mexico], often shiny; testa cells flat to concave , walls straight to sinuate . x = 11.

Species ca. 164: sw United States, Mexico, West Indies, Central America.

The greatest diversity in Mammillaria occurs in Mexico, in rocky sites bordering, but not in, semidesert. Some latex-bearing species, such as M. lasiacantha and many Mexican taxa, have their latex ducts deep inside the cortex, not in the tubercles. When preserving specimens outside the flora area, location, color, and viscosity of latex should be carefully recorded after plants have been cut and the latex allowed to ooze from its ducts for a few minutes. The latex ranges from sticky and white to less viscous and translucent . Tubercle length in descriptions refers to the distance the tubercle protrudes or projects outward from the stem axis. Fruits with mature, viable seeds sometimes remain on the plants for months before or after ripening. The time given in each phenology statement refers to the time of first ripening of the fruit (not seeds) . Seeds or dried remains of fruits often may be found deep in the axils of the tubercles, hidden by spine clusters or even pulled below the level of the soil.[2]

Physical Description

Flowers: Flower Color: inconspicuous, none


Size: under 6" tall.


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Culture: Space 6-9" apart.

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Likes bright sun.

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: High • Water Requirements: Drench thoroughly, then water again when dry.

Temperature: Cold Hardiness: 10a, 10b, 11. (map)


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Place of publication : Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. 17:109. 1828

Name verified on 26-Feb-2004 by ARS Systematic Botanists. Last updated: 26-Feb-2004

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Mammillaria

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 245 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

M. albicans (Mammillaria) · M. albicoma (Mammillaria) · M. albiflora (Biznaguita) · M. albilanata (Mammillaria) · M. amajacensis (Mammillaria) · M. angelensis (Mammillaria) · M. anniana (Biznaguita) · M. apozolensis var. saltensis (Mammillaria) · M. armillata (Mammillaria) · M. aureilanata (Mammillaria) · M. aureilanata var. alba (Mammillaria) · M. aurilanata (Biznaguita) · M. bachmannii (Mammillaria) · M. backebergiana (Mammillaria) · M. barbata (Green Fishhook Cactus) · M. baumii (Mammillaria) · M. beneckei (Mammillaria) · M. berkiana (Biznaguita) · M. blossfeldiana (Mammillaria) · M. bocasana (Powderpuff Pincushion Cactus) · M. bocasana f. multilanata (Powder-Puff Pincushion) · M. bocasana 'Fred' (Mammillaria) · M. bocensis (Mammillaria) · M. boelderliana (Mammillaria) · M. bombycina (Silken Pincusion) · M. boolii (Mammillaria) · M. brachytrichion (Biznaguita) · M. brandegeei (Mammillaria) · M. canelensis (Mammillaria) · M. capensis (Mammillaria) · M. carmenae (Mammillaria) · M. carnea (Mammillaria) · M. carretii (Mammillaria) · M. cerralboa (Mammillaria) · M. chionocephala (Mammillaria) · M. chionocephala 'Ritteriana' (Mammillaria) · M. coahuilensis (Mammillaria) · M. columbiana (Mammillaria) · M. compressa (Mother of Hundreds) · M. cornifera (Rhinoceros Cactus) · M. crinita (Rose Pincushion Cactus) · M. crinita f. aurihamata (Mammillaria) · M. crinita f. nana (Mammillaria) · M. crinita f. zeilmanniana (Rose Pincushion Cactus) · M. crinita f. zeilmanniana 'Drop Dead Fred' (Mammillaria) · M. crinita scheinvariana (Biznaguita) · M. crucigera (Mammillaria) · M. decipiens (Mammillaria) · M. decipiens 'Mme Marnier' (Mammillaria) · M. deherdtiana (Mammillaria) · M. densispina (Mammillaria) · M. dioica (California Fishhook Cactus) · M. discolor (Mammillaria) · M. dixanthocentron (Mammillaria) · M. duoformis (Mammillaria) · M. duoformis 'Heeriana' (Mammillaria) · M. duwei (Biznaguita) · M. ekmanii (Mammillaria) · M. elegans (Mammillaria) · M. elongata (Golden Cluster Cactus) · M. elongata DC. var. echinata (DC.) Backeb. (Lace Cactus) · M. elongata echinaria (Mammillaria) · M. elongata 'Cristata' (Brain Cactus) · M. elongata var. echinata (Golden Star Cactus) · M. elongata 'Copper King' (Mammillaria) · M. elongata 'Julio' (Mammillaria) · M. elongata 'Monstrosus' (Brain Cactus) · M. eriacantha (Mammillaria) · M. erythrosperma (Mammillaria) · M. estebanensis (Mammillaria) · M. evermanniana (Mammillaria) · M. fittkaui (Mammillaria) · M. fittkaui fittkaui (Biznaguita) · M. flavicentra (Mammillaria) · M. formosa (Mammillaria) · M. fraileana (Mammillaria) · M. gasseriana (Biznaguita) · M. geminispina (Twin-Spined Cactus) · M. gigantea (Mammillaria) · M. glassii (Mammillaria) · M. glassii var. nominis-dulcis (Mammillaria) · M. glassii var. siberiensis (Mammillaria) · M. glochidiata (Biznaguita) · M. goodridgei (Mammillaria) · M. gracilis (Thimble Cactus) · M. grahamii (Arizona Fishhook Cactus) · M. grahamii Engelm. var. grahamii Engelm. (Fishhook Pincushion) · M. grahamii Engelm. var. oliviae (Orcutt) L.Benson (Graham's Nipple Cactus) · M. grahamii var. grahamii (Graham's Nipple Cactus) · M. grahamii var. oliviae (Olive Pincushion Cactus) · M. grusonii (Mammillaria) · M. guelzowiana (Biznaguita) · M. guerreronis (Mammillaria) · M. guillauminiana (Biznaguita) · M. haageana (Mammillaria) · M. hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) · M. halbingeri (Mammillaria) · M. heidiae (Mammillaria) · M. hernandezii (Mammillaria) · M. herrerae (Biznaguita)

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Further Reading

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  1. Zhen-yu Li & Nigel P. Taylor "Cactaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 13 Page 209. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Allan D. Zimmerman & Bruce D. Parfitt "Mammillaria". in Flora of North America Vol. 4 Page 94, 98, 221, 239,. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
Last Revised: 2015-01-30