Escobaria minima (Baird) D. R. Hunt
Birdfoot Cactus, Dwarf Cory Cactus, Least Cory Cactus, Nellie Cory Cactus, Nellie's Pincushion Cactus
Coryphantha minima, Coryphantha nellieae, Escobaria nellieae, Mammillaria nellieae, Neobesseya minima
The natural habitat of this species is the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States, where it grows in mats of Selaginella in rock crevices. It is found only in Brewster County, Texas, where three populations remain near Marathon.
Escobaria minima, formerly known as Coryphantha minima, is a small cactus with spheric to cylindric stems with conical tubercles tipped with dense clusters of pale tan to pinkish gray spines. In habitat usually grows solitary or in groups of 2 to 3 stems but is branched profusely in cultivation. The stems are up to 1.1 inches (2.7 cm) tall and 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Each areole bears 1 to 4 central and 13 to 24 radial spines, all about 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) long. Flowers are pale rose-pink to magenta, shading gradually to paler pink or white basally, and sometimes with darker midstripes. They are funnel-shaped, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long, and up to 1.1 inches (2.7 cm) in diameter. They appear at the top of the stems in several flushes, primarily in mid-spring. Fruits are green, sometimes slightly yellow tinted, more or less egg-shaped, up to 0.25 inches (0.6 cm) long, and up to 0.15 inches (0.4 cm) in diameter.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Escobarias are very susceptible to rot. Therefore they require well-drained soil without any water excess or stagnation. It has been observed that the plants also suffer the environmental humidity, which should preferably remain very low (30 to 50 %). Avoid watering during the winter, when the plant is dormant. Watering Escobaria in cold environmental conditions will almost certainly lead to the death of the plant. In the growing season, the plants, whose growth is typically quite slow, like to perceive a significant temperature difference between night and day.
The experienced grower knows well the difficulties of survival of the members of this genus, which is certainly not one of the easiest to grow. The seed germination rate is lower than other genera, and in fact, other propagation methods are preferable, such as offsets or cuttings.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Escobaria.
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