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California Pincushion, Viejito
Scientific Name: Mammillaria tetrancistra Englm.
Synonym: Cactus phellospermus, Mammillaria phellosperma, Phellosperma tetrancistra, Bartschella tetrancistra, Cactus tetrancistrus
Family: Cactaceae
California Pincushion, Viejito (Mammillaria  tetrancistra) Recommended Temperature Zone:
USDA: 9-10

Frost Tolerance: Hardy to at least 20F (-7C)

Minimum Avg. Temperature: 50F (10C)

Sun Exposure: Light shade

Origin: Southwestern USA (southwestern Arizona, southeastern California), northwestern Mexico (northeastern Baja California, northwestern Sonora)

Growth Habits: Solitary or clumping, 4 to 10 inches tall (10-25 cm), 2 to 3 inches wide (5-7.5 cm); tubercles 0.16 to 0.28 inch long (4-7 mm); axils of young tubercles woolly with a few bristles; 3 or 4 hooked or straight central spines, 0.12 to 0.4 inch long (3-10 mm), the lower one the longest; 40 to 60 thin white needle-like radials, in 2 series, 0.2 to 0.4 inch long (5-10 mm).

Watering Needs: Water sparingly, needs good drainage


Similar looking to Mammillaria grahamii, it might be difficult to identify which one is which. The one absolute way, is the shape of the seeds.

Blooming Habits:
Large pink flowers, 1.4 to 2 inches in diameter (3.5-5 cm), in April, and occasionally again in late summer after the monsoon rains. Red fruits.

Fruiting Habits:

Check for Field Collection numbers at Ralph Martin's Site

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Desert-Tropicals is dedicated to provide gardening advice, gardening ideas, and information about flower of all kind for landscape and collections. We try to check carefully the identification of the plants on the illustrations as well as the other information from the page, but occasionally errors do occur. if you notice anything that needs to be changed please contact us. Thanks.

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