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Astrophytum caput-medusae


Scientific Name

Astrophytum caput-medusae D. R. Hunt


Digitostigma caput-medusae (basionym)

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Astrophytum


Astrophytum caput-medusae is an unusual cactus with a cylindrical and very reduced stem. Tubercles are cylindrical or occasionally triangular when young, similar to leaves, and up to 7.6 inches (19 cm) long. Flowers are diurnal, yellow with the base of the inner perianth-segments orange colored. Fruits are green and fleshy when young and covered with lanceolate scales with wool in the axil.

Astrophytum caput-medusae

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USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Astrophytums are not vigorous plants, and they require a lot of patience to reach their full potential. Keep regularly watering and feeding them during the growing season and repot annually to give them space to develop. They need a temperate, dry winter, and make sure not to overwater them to avoid rotting their roots. If given sufficient care, they will develop marvelous flowers once they reach maturity. Watch out for common cactus pests like aphids and scale, as well. These can often be taken care of by a good eco-friendly pesticide or simply wiped away with a cloth.

Repot regularly to help them develop. Astrophytums should be repotted at the beginning of the growing season for best results, allowing them to grow into the impressive specimens for which the genus is known. Protect your hands before repotting due to their stiff spikes and lift the plant out all at once, then replace it in a larger pot and backfill soil. Don't overwater or overfeed newly repotted cacti, as disturbances can be hard on them.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Astrophytum.


Astrophytum caput-medusae is native to northern Mexico.


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