Aztekium ritteri (Boed.) Boed.
Aztekium ritteri var. rotundum, Echinocactus ritteri
This species is native to Mexico. It occurs in Nuevo León on gypsum hills at elevations from 1,970 to 3,280 feet (600 to 1,000 m).
Aztekium ritteri is a small, very slow-growing cactus with subspherical, almost spineless, gray-green stems with 5 to 11 narrow, well-pronounced ribs with transverse wrinkles and lined with yellowish-white felty areoles. The stems grow to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, initially solitary, producing offsets to form a small clump with age. They have a slightly depressed apex tuft of dense wool and pseudo-ribs between the actual ribs. Only those areole close to the apex bear 1 to 3 yellowish to gray, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long spines that all point upward. They drop off with age.
Flowers are funnel-shaped, up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) long, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, with white to pinkish-white inner petals and dark pink to magenta outer petals, and appear at the wooly apex in spring and summer. They are followed by small pink berry-like fruits that open when ripe and let out tiny dark brown seeds.
The specific epithet "ritteri (RIT-ter-ee)" honors Friedrich Ritter (1898-1989), a German botanist who collected and described many species of cacti.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Aztekiums are by far the most challenging cacti to grow. They have extremely slow growth, probably the slowest of the entire Cactus family. They usually take several years for growth to be even noticeable. However, once a specimen is established on its own roots, it is no trouble to keep it, and it becomes easy to manage.
Because of the difficulty of cultivation, Aztekiums are most often grafted to hardier stock. They need good drainage and regular water in summer. Keep it nearly dry in winter. If grafted, the plants can take a little more water. Just remember the graft stock is also a cactus and will rot if overwatered. Provide shade from midday through the afternoon. A little morning sun is OK.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aztekium.
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